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USF aims to recapture conference rown

The USF men’s soccer team is one victory away from playing in a AAC championship tournament final for the third consecutive year.

The only thing standing in the Bulls’ way is Connecticut.

The No. 2-seed Bulls (11-4-3, 5-1-2) host the No. 3 Huskies in the semifinal match Friday at Corbett Stadium, where they are undefeated (9-0-2).

“Whenever you host the tournament, there’s a monkey on your back,” USF coach George Kiefer said after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Memphis in the quarterfinals. 

“Nobody says it, but it’s the unwritten rule. When you host it, you need to be in it.”

USF defeated the Tigers thanks to junior forward Melvin Becket’s goal in the 28th minute. Becket is second on the team with five goals on the season, behind junior forward Nazeem Bartman (seven).

UConn (8-5-5, 3-3-2) advanced out of the quarterfinal by blanking Temple 4-0.

The Huskies displayed their depth — and promising young talent — as three freshmen contributed to the season-best offensive output. 

UConn is also unbeaten in its previous six matches, outscoring its opponents 12-3, including a 2-1 overtime victory over USF on Halloween.

The winner of Friday’s match will advance to the final on Sunday. If the Bulls win the title, it will guarantee their first trip to the final since 2013 when they won the inaugural AAC title. 

Their stretch of seven straight NCAA tournament bids was snapped last season when they lost to Tulsa in the final.