It took longer than the regulation 90 minutes, but the USF men’s soccer team lives to play in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Local freshman Wesley Charpie, of Tarpon Springs, headed in a goal six minutes into the first overtime period to give the Bulls a 2-1 win over UCF in front of 3,029 fans at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Sunday.
The win avenged the Bulls’ 3-0 loss to the Knights the previous season in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“You always want to be able to get revenge,” said senior midfielder Sebastien Thuriere, who provided the cross that Charpie finished for the victory.
The Bulls took control in the 70th minute, when a tough run into the box by sophomore midfielder Leston Paul was followed by a tipped shot that went into the net for the Bulls, to gain a 1-0 lead courtesy of a UCF own goal.
The euphoria was short-lived for the Bulls, as UCF’s Ben Hunt equalized from a corner kick just two minutes later.
USF had a golden chance to win in regulation in the 84th minute, when Dom Dwyer was taken down hard in the box, drawing the penalty kick chance for the Bulls. Paul took the kick and feigned left before going right, a tactic which is illegal in college soccer. The call made no difference, however, as Paul’s try hit the post and was cleared away by the Knights.
“(It’s a) testament to the guys,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “They kept fighting even though they dealt with a lot, with UCF getting a goal right after we scored and then, again, not being able to get the (penalty kick) with six minutes left.”
With the game moving into sudden-victory overtime, the Bulls immediately established dominance with aggressive offense.
USF was rewarded just six minutes into the first overtime period when Aubrey Perry passed to Thuriere. Thuriere took a touch and crossed the ball, which met Charpie’s head for the biggest goal of the season to this point for USF, a game-winning “golden goal.”
“I don’t even remember what happened,” Charpie said. “I headed it in, I think I threw my shirt off and just blacked out from there. It’s the best feeling ever.”
The Bulls’ next game will be Sunday against undefeated New Mexico, which beat Duke 2-1 in overtime. The game will be at home once again, with free admission courtesy of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.
“It would be foolish for me not to thank the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and our marketing team,” Kiefer said. “And I hope they can do it again next week – people won’t be paying for tickets again.”