After a disappointing loss to the St. Louis Billikens on Friday night, the USF men’s soccer team (4-2-1) was at risk of a long fall from its No. 12 ranking in the Soccer America poll.
One dominant Sunday may have helped them gain ground.
After a winless weekend in the Dartmouth Tournament their last time out, the Bulls returned home, looking to get back into the win column. With the largest crowd in the young history of the new USF Soccer Stadium – 1,830 on hand for Alumni Weekend – the Bulls were unable to fight off a sluggish start in the 2-1 loss.
Junior defender Brenton Griffiths had the lone goal for USF on a 46th-minute header off a Ben Sweat corner kick. The loss was the Bulls’ second in three games, after a 3-0 start to the year. With their No. 12 ranking at risk, the Bulls faced the undefeated No. 10 UC-Irvine Anteaters on Sunday.
In a high-noon game with plenty of heat and substitutions, the Bulls dominated on all sides from start to finish in an impressive 2-0 victory. Freshman midfielder Wesley Charpie gave the Bulls an early lead with a 13th-minute goal on a low, powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Junior forward Dom Dwyer capped an impressive game with his team leading sixth goal of the season in the 82nd minute, stretching and diving for a header off of a free kick by Sweat. The Bulls’ defense remained strong for the final eight minutes to seal graduate student goalkeeper Chris Blais’ third shutout.
“Chris has been working really hard,” coach George Kiefer said. “We put him in some tough situations the last couple of games. Sometimes if you stop having success, you’ll lose your swagger. But we met separately with Chris, and he looks back on track.”
Dropping from eighth to 12th in the rankings after a winless split in Dartmouth, Sunday’s result will aid the Bulls’ case as they enter Big East play in Morgantown against West Virginia. The game begins at 3:30 p.m. Sunday
“Now it’s, ‘Remember what you did well and keep growing in those areas,'” Kiefer said. “We get to start Big East play in a week, so it’s great.”