No. 24 USF defeated the Denver Pioneers (7-5-1) on Wednesday, utilizing quick counterattacks and a high-pressure defense to score three goals and secure its fifth shutout of the season.
Freshman midfielder Gabriel Pfeffer scored two goals, and senior midfielder Lucas Baldin earned an assist and scored the final goal.
On the first goal, Baldin sent in a corner kick to the middle of the box as Pfeffer made a run past the defenders and headed the ball into the lower right side of the net to earn his first goal of the season.
“We worked on it a lot in practice,” Pfeffer said. “Lucas gave a good serve and I was just in the spot I had to be, and I just headed it in.”
Pfeffer’s second goal came unassisted, as he dribbled down the left wing past three defenders and made a sliding shot as the ball was going out of bounds.
Denver goalkeeper Ryan Massey was caught off guard, thinking the ball was out of play, as it rolled past him to his far post and into the net.
“I was just getting the ball,” Pfeffer said. “I tried to go back and I didn’t have any good passes, so I just ran forward and looked for the goal.”
The final goal came off a free kick, as Lucas Baldin dribbled down the middle of the field and was eventually fouled by Denver midfielder Jordan Schweitzer roughly a yard away from the box.
With a free kick near the middle of the field, Baldin curved the ball towards the upper right corner of the goal to score his fifth goal of the season.
USF goalkeepers Spasoje Stefanovic and Dallas Jaye had excellent performances, each making three vital saves, while Massey made only one.
USF (8-4) will resume AAC play against No. 21 SMU in Dallas on Saturday. It will be a matchup of the top two teams in the AAC, SMU (7-3-1, 3-0-1) being undefeated in conference games.
“You look at the standings and you see SMU above us and I know my group doesn’t like to see that,” coach George Kiefer said. “They’re a ranked team and we’ve watched them play; that’s going to be a really fun one in Dallas.”