On Nov. 16 last season, USF defeated St. John’s, an eventual NCAA Final Four team, 1-0 in a hard-fought overtime match to capture the first Big East title in program history.
Though not as much was at stake Saturday, USF coach George Kiefer expected a similar situation against St. John’s, and that’s what USF got as it settled for a 1-1 tie at the USF Soccer Stadium.
“Any time you play a team like St. John’s, you have to expect a tough, grind-it-out match,” Kiefer said. “I felt like it was a really back-and-forth game. We’re a little disappointed in a tie (but) we’ll take the point against a great opponent.”
The No. 3 Bulls lost 1-0 to No. 12 Louisville on Wednesday.
However, it looks like USF would turn around its misfortunes from earlier in the week in the first half against St. John’s (3-2-6, 2-1-4). Senior Ogi Perucica controlled a long ball from goalkeeper Jeff Attinella just outside St. Johns’s box. As Red Storm keeper Derby Carrillo left his post to charge, Perucica lofted a high-arcing shot toward the empty net. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar and landed two yards to the left of the goal, where senior Zak Boggs bicycle-kicked the rebound into the far corner of the net.
It ended a scoring drought for Boggs, who hadn’t had a goal since USF’s opening match of the season against UCF on Sept. 1.
The opening minutes of the second half were played at a slow tempo, with the Bulls (7-2-2, 3-2-2) maintaining their one-goal advantage.
In the 62nd minute, though, St. John’s midfielder Sverre Wegge Gundhus sent a cross into the USF box and midfielder Adam Himeno ripped a shot passed Attinella.
“At the start of the season, I think (St. John’s) had some personal problems going on within the team that prevented them from getting off to a fast start,” Kiefer said. “But that is the same team that went to the Final Four last year. Now they’re starting to find their groove.”
Neither team took advantage of chances into overtime in front of a disappointed 1,678 fans – the largest so far this season.
USF suffered two injury blows in the match, but Kiefer said they’re just minor problems. Boggs and midfielder Shawn Chin tweaked their hamstrings, forcing the Bulls to go to their bench.
“Losing (Boggs and Chin) in the middle of a match is tough, but that’s why we spend so much time training,” Kiefer said. “Our subs were prepared, and I thought they played very well.”