When USF sophomore defender Matthew O’Neal raised his hand and joined the Bulls in celebration during the 57th minute of USF’s fourth goal against the SMU Mustangs, the men’s soccer team wasn’t just praising another scoring play. They had found momentum.
“The (team’s) mentality was excellent,” coach George Kiefer said. “Let’s face it, we’ve had some adversity and things haven’t gone as well as we’ve drawn up. But that’s life, and I thought they responded well to that.”
After four games of losses and ties, the Bulls hosted SMU for a crowd of 1,043 at Corbett Soccer Stadium to witness USF’s 4-1 win over the Mustangs.
SMU (3-10-2, 2-3-3) began the game relying on the defense to set up transition offense, but the USF defense, led by senior defender Ben Sweat, disrupted passes and limited their first half shots to three.
USF (5-3-7, 2-2-3) was able to respond with a pressing attack of their own, as redshirt junior forward Edwin Moalosi found a cross kick from freshman midfielder Lindo Mfeka during the 28th minute.
After initiating the first touch, Moalosi controlled his pace and fired the ball past SMU goalkeeper Jaime Ibarra.
The Bulls quickly followed up on their first score a minute later during a corner kick. Mfeka bent the ball from the far side to junior midfielder Wesley Charpie’s head.
While Ibarra blocked the shot, senior forward Stiven Salinas connected with the loose ball for the 2-0 lead.
“We’ve been working on finishing for the last two weeks because we have had chances but we weren’t scoring” Moalosi said. “I think it’s working now. Everyone can score. You can see that we’ve been working really hard to score.”
The momentum that the Bulls built from allowing only three shots needing no saves in the first period carried over into the second half, as the team continued to capitalize on corner kicks and finished scoring opportunities.
Mfeka finished the night with his third assist after sailing a corner kick to sophomore forward Terry Delancy’s head, which ricocheted into the back of the net for USF’s third goal.
USF’s final goal of the night was scored after a persistent shot display by the team after a corner kick. O’Neal got the last touch on the ball and scored from 15 yards out.
The Mustangs continued to go toe-to-toe and were able to corral a goal from a breakaway by junior midfielder Andrew Morales. They would finish the game with 10 shots total and a pair of saves by freshman goalkeeper Caleb Underwood.
The Bulls’ final home game of the season will be Tuesday, as they face Detroit Mercy at 7:30 p.m.