Bulls win two in a row, defeat FAU 4-1

Avionne Flanagan (right) scored USF's second goal of the night in its 4-1 win over Florida Atlantic University. ORACLE PHOTO/SAM NEWLON

USF men's soccer found itself in unfamiliar territory Monday — it was leading 2-0 at the half.

Even stranger, the Bulls (2-4) tacked on two more goals and held a 4-0 lead until FAU (2-3) scored in the 85th minute, bringing the final score to 4-1 in USF’s favor.

“I think we did a really good job starting fast, closing the half fast and finishing the game fast,” coach Bob Butehorn said. “I was very pleased.”

The Bulls recorded their first win Friday night at Ohio State, but did something against FAU that they hadn’t done all season — score without forward Tomasz Skublak.

Skublak was issued a red card in USF’s last match, making him ineligible to play against FAU.

“It’s always difficult playing without a guy that gives us a little bit of leadership,” Butehorn said. “He’s been in pretty good form these last couple weeks, so for us to not have him and get the job done was good. Hopefully he’ll bring us some spark into Fort Myers next weekend.”

Midfielder Trey Jackson opened the scoring for the Bulls in the 31st minute after he dribbled around a defender and curled a shot off his left foot into the top corner of the goal.

Six minutes later, forward Avionne Flanagan deflected a pass from Henrique Gallina past the FAU keeper to bring the score to 2-0.

Rounding out the scoring was Alex Zis, who came in the game as a substitute. Zis took a free kick outside the 18-yard box and knocked it into the back of the goal on a direct kick in the 70th minute.

In the 77th minute, a physical slide tackle in the penalty area gave the Bulls another chance to score, this time on a penalty kick.

Zis lined up to take the shot and nailed it into the bottom-left corner of the goal, making it 4-0.

“We weren’t scoring many goals in the beginning of the season,” Zis said. “It really helped out this game to get some extra goals that can help us moving forward.”

The Bulls were unable to secure a shutout, though.

In the 85th minute, a header from FAU’s Jean Paul Rafols off a corner kick caught the whole USF team off guard. Keeper Harrison Devenish-Meares stood flat-footed in the goal after the ball passed him.

Even without their leading scorer, the Bulls were able to manufacture goals against an in-state foe. They will travel to Florida Gulf Coast University (2-2) on Saturday.

Butehorn formerly coached for FGCU for 10 seasons where he amassed a 95-62-23 record. He was the first men’s soccer coach in FGCU history.