As with any sport, hard work and sweat is essential to create a nationally ranked team. This rings true for the USF mens soccer team in more ways than one. Getting a 3-0 start to the season, junior defender Ben Sweat has been vital in his role on both sides of the ball.
Watching him now, many would think that Sweat hasalways been a dominant scorerfor the Bulls. But it was hisdefense and passing ability that originally set apart the junior who is just now finding his way on the attack as well as the defense.
Ben is a very technical player and hes really grown as a player here at USF too, coach George Kiefersaid. Early on you knew he was talented, but youd pull your hair out on some of the little details where noweverybody is talking about him scoring goals. Hes payingattention (now) to the detail on those things which is making us a better team.
Sweat helped get the Bulls off to a start in their home opener against Michigan a week ago. With the game tied up 1-1 in the second period, USF put the Wolverines away in clutch fashion as Sweat found the back of the net for the first time in his collegecareer in the 65th minute of play. The followingFriday night, with time running down in a 0-0 struggle withNo. 20 SMU, Sweat stepped up again, when he nailed a goal right outside of the net in the 74th minute to clinch a 1-0 win for the Bulls.
When you do the extra work, when you sprint back 50 yards, when youre good one on one, when you do the work that isnt the fun work then it makes the whole teambetter, Kiefer said. I think Ben is doing a good job of that. Hes a great team guy.
Success on the roadcontinued soon on Sunday, when Sweat and USFsdefense contained Tulsa to one goal in the second half,allowing the Bulls to go up2-1 over the Golden Hurricanes and 2-0 in the Hurricane Classic. Top Drawer Soccer named Sweat Mens College Soccer Player of the Week for his performance this past weekend and he looks to keep the ball rolling into this weeks matchup.
We just have to keep doing the same thing, maybe sharpen our possession a little bit, but the entire team defensively has been great and offensivelywere putting balls away, Sweat said. If we just keep getting confidence well bereally good.
After attending high school at Pinellas countys Palm Harbor High School, Sweat decided to stay local when he entered USF as a freshman in 2010 after being named Pinellas Countyplayer of the year for twoyears straight.
Upon his arrival, Sweatstarted all 18 games in 2010, helping the Bulls to 10 shutouts.
A year later, USF putitself on the map when Sweat helped the defense to record7 shutouts while picking up five assists to help the teamoffensively, and the Bulls made it to the Elite Eight.
With USF ranked nationally at No. 2 and with opposingdefenses looking for a way to stop Sweats clutch goals, Sweat has anaged to keep his on-field success on par with his classroom success.
Ive gotten used to it Im starting to take harder classes,he said. But when Imdoing school, Im doing school. When Im doing soccer, Imfocused on soccer, so I can split the two.
With momentum in thedirection of both Sweat and USF, the Bulls look toroll in on all cylinders asthey enter the USFtournament, which kicksoff Thursday at5 p.m. at USFs CorbettSoccer Stadium.