Bulls finish strong

The men’s soccer team sealed a home playoff match and finished its regular season with an overall record of 11-4-2 with a 2-0 win over St. John’s on Saturday night.

The Bulls finished fourth place in the Red Division and will host the fifth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas of the Blue Division on Wednesday in the first round of the Big East championship.

The importance of getting a home match in the playoffs for the Bulls is underscored by the fact that they’re 7-1 at home this season.

“This is really big for us,” team captain Yohance Marshall said. “We have a really good home record, and I don’t think there are too many teams out there that could come in here and play over us.”

Senior Simon Schoendorf capped off a career year with a goal, giving him seven for the season. That ties a personal best for the midfielder from Karlsruhe, Germany, and coincides with his career-high nine assists this season.

“I’m just happy I was able to stay healthy for my senior season,” Schoendorf said. “We’re far from done, though. It’s nice to finish the regular season off on a strong note against a good team and I think it’s a big step for us toward playoff success.”

The goal came in the 39th minute after some good ball movement in the midfield got the Bulls into the Red Storm’s half of the field. Sophomore midfielder Armante Marshall got the ball out on the wing and put in a centering pass that Schoendorf stuck just inside the far post to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead.

“We always play better soccer when we play against better teams,” Schoendorf said. “The same thing happened tonight; everyone came out and took pride in what they had to do.”

Going into the half, USF led 1-0. Neither team had managed to create many opportunities other than the one on which the Bulls capitalized. Defensively, freshman goalkeeper Jeff Attinella and the USF backline seemed to be communicating well.

“I feel like the team is starting to gel a little better now,” Marshall said. “The freshman goalkeeper was talking to me a lot, which made my job easier, and the back line came to play. Training has been good lately and I think tonight we saw that it’s paying off.”

In the second half, each team got into the flow of the game better and started making some chances for themselves.

A little more than 20 minutes into the half, Schoendorf made a run and delivered a pass to Jordan Seabrook that gave the junior forward an opportunity to shoot from a tough angle. Seabrook took it and saw it wind up being blocked and eventually cleared away by the St. John’s defense.

Things would get scary for USF just a few minutes later as the Red Storm won a free kick just outside the USF 18-yard box. With everybody back in defense for USF, St. John’s looked to score on the opportunity, but the free kick sailed just inches over the bar allowing the Bulls to breathe again.

Set piece opportunities were in abundance for St. John’s at one point in the second half, but the USF defense held strong and only allowed two shots on goal all night.

The Bulls sealed the win in the 76th minute when junior midfielder Jason Devenish got the ball out on the wing and made a run towards goal. After slipping past a St. John’s defender, Devenish found himself alone at the top of the box. He took a shot that skipped underneath the arms of the goalkeeper and gave the Bulls the decisive second goal they had been searching for.

“If you would have told me that we would finish 11-4-2 at the beginning of the season, I would have signed off on that,” coach George Kiefer said. “I think we’ve had some big wins this season and I’m very happy with the team right now. This is a big win for us. St. John’s is a good team that came in fighting for a league title, and I think you’d have to look back a long time to see the last time they lost in a situation like this.”