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Bulls blank Eagles

It was a game that had all the ingredients of a letdown for the USF men’s soccer team: a Tuesday night road game against a ranked opponent in front of a raucous crowd following a physical draw just three nights earlier.

The Bulls (6-2-2) refused to succumb to complacency and quieted the record crowd with both relentless defensive pressure and opportunistic offense on their way to an impressive 2-0 victory over the No. 25 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (4-3-2).

“Their crowd was definitely very excited,” coach George Kiefer said. “But our own USF Goalmouths (fan group) had traveled to the game, and it seemed like they were doing a better job behind their goal than the home fans.”

With 1,556 people in attendance, the Eagles’ supporters broke the previous record of 1,322, which was set Sept. 18 last year against Ohio State. Neither the record crowd, nor the intimidating “blue-out,” prevented the Bulls from establishing themselves as the more talented team.

“I think they came out very disciplined tonight, and this is a team that loves going on the road and loves playing in front of packed crowds like what we saw here tonight,” Kiefer said. “It was a great environment and a great night for college soccer.”

After a defensive first half, the Bulls were gifted with a penalty kick in the 42nd minute, which was quickly finished by sophomore midfielder Leston Paul for his second penalty kick goal in as many games.

The Bulls doubled the lead when, 21 minutes later, junior forward Dom Dwyer intercepted an Eagle pass near the box. After a quick touch, Dwyer sent a rocket into the lower-right corner of the goal for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.

Two goals proved more than enough to secure the win, as graduate student goalkeeper Chris Blais made four saves in another strong performance.

“Defense is something which we are constantly working on, and a number of guys did a great job getting our defense organized,” Kiefer said. “Communication is so important on defense, and that’s what they all did.”

USF needs to make yet another quick turnaround, as it faces No. 8 St. John’s on Saturday at the USF Soccer Stadium at 7:30 p.m.