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Always-competitive Skublak’s suspension over in time for FGCU

Tomasz Skublak shows off his competitive spirit by challenging Virginia Tech's keeper, who responded by shoving the USF forward shortly after. Skublak had to sit out against FAU after he was issued a red card last week. He'll return to play against FGCU on Saturday. ORALCE PHOTO/SAM NEWLON

He hates losing.

Even off the pitch, USF men’s soccer forward Tomasz Skublak, a Canadian native, said he’d do whatever it takes to win — even in a simple game of checkers.

“I’d do everything in my power to win,” Skublak said. “I hate losing more than I like winning.”

He’s played an integral part on offense by scoring two of the Bulls’ six goals this season.

He’s also been involved in almost every altercation for USF this season — the most recent earning him a red card against Ohio State last week.

He had to sit out the last game-and-a-half.

“It’s really eating away at me for sure,” Skublak said before the game. “It’s definitely a lesson I need to learn to keep my control and my composure, so it’s definitely something that I’ll take in and learn from.”

Officials issued Skublak a yellow card at the end of the first half against the Buckeyes, then changed their decision to give him a red card at the beginning of the second half.

Because the red card was technically issued in the second half, Skublak had to sit out the entirety of Monday’s match against FAU (2-3).

Skublak has been the main conduit of the Bulls’ offense, but was forced to take a back seat in USF’s 4-1 win over FAU on Monday.

“They had great goals,” Skublak said of his teammates. “I knew that they were coming and they definitely deserved it…I’m ready to be back though.”

Midfielders Trey Jackson, Alex Zis and forward Avionne Flanagan all scored in the game. Even though he couldn’t contribute on the pitch, Skublak said he saw the second win coming.

“We haven’t really had a break since the last game, so I think the momentum swing that we have is going to be very good for this game coming up,” Skublak said before the FAU win. “We know we’re a good team and it was just a matter of time before the momentum started moving our way.”

Zis and Skublak live together. Before the game, the pair had a conversation about Skublak sitting out.

“He was mad that he got a red card,” Zis said. “But it happens and he’ll be back next game. He’ll be ready…he’s always looking to better himself on and off the field.”

Even though the Bulls don’t have a record to show for it, Skublak and coach Bob Butehorn think that playing a tough schedule will pay off as the season progresses.

“I like playing good teams,” Skublak said. “I like having good competition and just showing everybody what we’re made of…I feel like a heavy schedule is definitely the one for us.”

Skublak, despite his intensity and compulsion to win, was quick to give praise to his teammates — especially keeper Harrison Devenish-Meares.

“If you don’t get scored on, you can’t lose,” Skublak said. “I think once we start getting momentum, it should definitely be a much better season for us because we’ll start scoring more and we’ll concede less which will result in wins.”

Skublak returns to action Saturday against FGCU (2-2) in Fort Myers.

The senior forward — and his competitive nature — is itching to get back on the pitch.

“I’m one of the most competitive players I know,” Skublak said. “I think it comes from wanting it, it’s just heart…I feel like it’s important for every soccer player, not just the ones playing in college, to have that kind of heart and desire to play this sport.”