The men’s soccer team used a dominating offensive performance en route to a 4-0 victory over Georgetown in the first round of the Big East championship.
The four goals scored by USF were the team’s highest offensive output since its 6-1 romping of American University on Sept. 15.
“Tonight was one of our better performances,” coach George Kiefer said. “Georgetown is one of the better defensive teams in the Big East, and to get four goals on them shows that we’re in good form right now.”
Two of the goals came from junior midfielder Kevon Neaves. Neaves’ last score was in a 3-1 loss to Rutgers on October 20.
“You have to have a good team behind you,” Neaves said. “It was the effectiveness of our defense and how quickly we got into transition that gave us the opportunities we had.”
The Bulls had only six shots on goal, but putting away four of them has everybody on the team feeling good about their ability to make the most of their chances.
“We look good going forward,” Neaves said. “We just have to keep our play tight. The key for us is tomorrow. Everybody has to get their rest and take it one day at a time.”
The Bulls came out slow and struggled to maintain possession in the first half. As the game progressed, however, it became clear that USF was the faster and better offensive team.
“The way Georgetown plays, their defense drops back fast, which kind of bogged us down a bit in the first half,” Kiefer said. “In the second half, we started moving the ball and playing off each touch. Once we started doing that I thought we looked real good.”
The Bulls’ first score came five minutes before halftime, thanks to a twist of fate that went USF’s way. Freshman forward Bernardo Anor hit Simon Schoendorf with a cross-field pass that the senior just barely kept from going out of bounds.
Schoendorf proceeded to put a ball into the box that hit a Georgetown defender in the back and rolled behind goalkeeper Matthew Brutto. Before the Georgetown defense could recover, Anor slipped in behind and pushed the ball over the line to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead.
The game went into the half with the Bulls clinging to a 1-0 lead, even though their opponent had the upper hand in possession.
In the second half, everything began going the Bulls’ way as they ran away with the match.
In the 58th minute, Schoendorf took the ball out on the wing. After two quick touches between him and Jordan Seabrook, Schoendorf fed the ball to Neaves, who was making a run into the box. The Trinidad native easily put a shot past the keeper to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead and the confidence to bury Georgetown’s season in style.
The final two goals were scored within a minute of each other late in the half.
Neaves got his second goal of the night early in the 87th minute, going unassisted on a breakaway and sliding the ball underneath the goalkeeper’s arms.
USF would make it 4-0 in the same minute, when after the restart a long pass was played to sophomore midfielder Armante Marshall. After sliding the ball past the keeper, Marshall found himself with an easy tap-in goal to finish off the match.
In the end, it was the experience of USF’s core players like Neaves, Schoendorf and Seabrook that fueled the Bulls’ victory.
“Our older guys have been good all year,” Kiefer said. “There are a lot of young guys on this team, and with all the traveling and the experience of their first year, it’s big to have older guys to keep them in check – and pushing them in a positive way is a good thing to see.”
Wednesday’s match was the Bulls’ third win in as many years while hosting a Big East championship game. On top of being a confidence builder, the match also helped restore the Bulls’ faith in their game plan.
“They came out here playing for their season tonight,” junior forward Seabrook said. “We played a smart game tonight. We kept our numbers and played tight. It’s easy to come away with a win like this when you stick to that game plan.”
After the Bulls’ performance Wednesday, coach Kiefer is feeling as good as anybody about where the team is right now.
“What I like best about the team is we’ve dealt with some adversity this year,” Kiefer said. “We’ve kept pushing and pushing and we’re in great form right now.”