Tempers flare, Bulls still seek first goal of season in loss to Virginia Tech

USF keeper Harrison Devenish-Meares allowed one goal and made nine saves in the Bulls' loss to Virginia Tech at home Friday. ORACLE PHOTO/SAM NEWLON

USF men’s soccer(0-3) fell to Virginia Tech Hokies 1-0 Friday night, leaving the team goalless after three matches.

Virginia Tech (3-0) scored in the 25th minute. The Bulls fired off nine first-half shots and 12 more in the second half but still failed to convert a chance.

“I’m a coach that’s going to throw numbers at the goal, and usually we are going to outshoot other teams,” coach Bob Butehorn said. “We were just unfortunate tonight, I wouldn’t say unlucky, just unfortunate.”

At halftime, Butehorn said his team made some adjustments.

Junior Alex Zis was substituted in later than usual. The Bulls played aggressively, shooting 13 times during the second half.

“I think Zis came in and gave us a little bit of life,” Butehorn said. “I think he is finding some confidence.”

Junior Adrian Billhardt and Senior Tomasz Skublak lead USF in shots. Billhardt shot eight times with three on goal and Skublak shot five times with two on goal.

As the game wore on, tempers flared.

Virginia Tech keeper Mathijs Swaneveld let a ball roll into the penalty area, but did not pick it up. Skublak challenged his opponent for the ball and, when Swaneveld picked the ball up at the last second, Skublak pushed the keeper.

Swaneveld’s response was to push back, then eventually swing a fist — inadvertently hitting Skublak in the throat, earning the Virginia Tech keeper a yellow card and a loud scolding from his teammates.

“There’s always frustration, coaches, in general, could be up 3-0 and there will be frustration,” Butehorn said, “I think in general if you aren’t frustrated during a loss, then there is something wrong.”

However, in addition to frustration, Butehorn did mention that there was a different energy to the team during this game compared to the past few.

“I’m going to say it was the fans and playing in this place,” Butehorn said. “They really felt excited about playing in front of (the crowd), and once they felt that energy they kept pushing.”

Although the team will go into their next game without a win — or a goal — Butehorn remains positive for the season. He believes his team is capable of doing better and that they will continue to learn from their mistakes.

“As a coach you always look at the positives and I feel like we made adjustments at half time,” Butehorn said. “We came out and deserved at least a tie, we should’ve won. We will take this as a positive, a teaching moment, and tell the group that these are the steps you’re taking in the right direction. We had better looks and it was by far their best game.”