The men’s soccer team made a statement with its resilient performance in a 2-0 victory over Missouri State on Friday night at Corbett Stadium.
After sitting through a two-hour delay because of severe weather, some questioned whether USF would come out with a good showing. A strong defensive performance throughout the game and two goals in the second half quickly erased those doubts as USF snagged the upper hand in the regular-season opener.
“I think we communicated well in the second half,” junior midfielder Lindo Mfeka said. “We came together as a team and that was all we needed, because in the first half we were kind of spread out and in the second half we came together and we had everything fall into place.”
Missouri State (0-1) nearly scored a first-half goal when midfielder Jack Griffin took a shot from about 25 yards out into the lower-right corner of the box. USF goalkeeper Spasoje Stefanovic, the AAC’s preseason keeper of the year, stretched out just enough to keep the Bulls in the game.
USF’s defense did not allow another shot on target for the rest of the game.
Sophomore forward Eduardo Maceira finally got USF (1-0) on the board in the 55th minute after taking a pass from fellow sophomore Gabriel Pfeffer near the middle of the box. Maceira turned and shot, only to have it deflect off a Missouri State player and past goalkeeper Liam Priestly for a 1-0 advantage.
“We just did a better job of pressing them and going together as a group and I think that took away their rhythm,” coach George Kiefer said.
Mfeka gave the Bulls their final tally in the 62nd minute after senior Brandon Riley played a long ball to forward Nazeem Bartman. Bartman and Mfeka began passing to each other on top of the box until Mfeka had the right opportunity to take a shot into the right corner.
USF outshot Missouri State 10-6.
“We improve every day,” Mfeka said. “I think this team just improves every day and that’s what makes this team great.”
USF's game against No. 3 Georgetown on Sunday night was postponed until Monday at 9:30 a.m. because of inclement weather. Admission is free.