After almost two full seasons 13 games without a regular season conference loss, the USF mens soccer team finally met its match.
For the first time since a 2-0 loss to St. Johns on Oct. 30, 2010, the Bulls were on the losing end of a regular season Big East game.
A tough offensive performance forced the Bulls (7-3-4, 1-1-3) into a 1-0 loss to Syracuse (10-4-0, 3-2) and dropped the Bulls to second-to-last place in the Big East Red Division, while the Orange jumped to second with the win.
The top five teams from each Big East division play in the Big East Tournament, and a win for USF on Saturday night would have meant a jump from sixth place to second. Instead, the Bulls sit at seventh place.
Coach George Kiefer said he was pleased with the teams performance, but felt as if it wasnt the Bulls night.
I give credit to Syracuse they got the win, Kiefer said. I definitely felt like we had enough situations where we could have had a goal or two. As far as finishing, it just wasnt our night to go in. I definitely think we played much better in the second half than we did in the first half.
The Orange took advantage early in the game, striking 15 minutes into the first half when Syracuse senior forward Louis Clark put a shot right in front of the left side of the net past USF keeper Dallas Jaye.
I think (the goal) was more of a giveaway in the midfield, Kiefer said. Syracuse is very good in transition.
Despite plenty of opportunities, the back of the net proved difficult to find after the Syracuse goal. By the end of the night there were 21 shots taken between the two teams 11 from Syracuse and 10 from USF.
With opportunities coming and going for both teams and a chance at second place in the division on the line, emotions were certainly running high. The match became more physical as the Bulls totaled 14 fouls to the Oranges 13.
The physicality boiled over toward the end of the match, after Syracuse kept the ball in the corner to run the clock which may have played into a scuffle between the teams when the match ended.
I didnt see what happened, I was busy shaking the coachs hand and I saw a bunch of guys running over there in the corner, Kiefer said.
Both teams were quickly separated and no one was penalized.
The Bulls will look to bounce back and keep their chances at tournament play alive as USF kicks off with Louisville (8-4-1, 4-1) on Wednesday night at 7, which will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The match will also mark the Bulls last home match of the regular season.
Louisville is a good team and the Big East is a tough conference, Kiefer said. The guys that I have on my team are used to the ups and downs of college soccer and we look forward to it.