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Bulls oust Knights in opener

If USF’s first game is a sign of things to come, then the Bulls should be in for an exciting season.

In a game that had two red cards, USF (0-1) took down in-state rival UCF with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at the USF Soccer Stadium.

“It goes without saying how important it is to begin the season on a strong note,” said USF forward Zak Boggs. “Beating UCF is a good stepping stone for us, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Bulls got off to a slow start, as their first shot on goal came 24 minutes into the first half.

However, it was a goal for junior midfielder Fernando Gonzalez, who scored off a corner kick from Javed Mohammed.

USF found the back of the net again just six and half minutes later, when Boggs scored off an assist by freshman Hasani Sinclair.

“It’s always nice to get a goal,” Boggs said. “I’m always happy to contribute to a solid win.”

Taking a 2-0 lead into halftime, the Bulls controlled most of the second half, keeping the ball in UCF territory. Playing shorthanded after UCF’s Finlay Milne was given a red card, the Knights cut into USF’s lead with a goal from Jeff Simmons in the 76th minute.

In a tense final 14 minutes – in which another UCF player was red carded – the Bulls staved off any kind of late rally from the Knights and hung on for the 2-1 win.

“It’s very important to have a strong start to the season,” said USF coach George Kiefer. “I was happy with the way we played.”

Kiefer was thrilled to get the victory in the opener but was surprised at the style of UCF’s play.

“I was satisfied that our players didn’t respond poorly to what UCF pulled out there tonight,” he said. “Any time you see two guys on their team get thrown out (of the game) and none of our players get tossed, it shows that we kept our composure and played the right way. (UCF) wasn’t really playing soccer at the end of the game, but it was a good test for us because we will be seeing a lot of teams like that.”

The Bulls travel to Ft. Myers on Saturday to take on Florida Gulf Coast University.