South Florida men’s soccer went scoreless in the first four games of the regular season, but by mid-season the Bulls found their groove and placed wins against ranked teams.
USF (9-7-4, 5-1-3 AAC) was able to keep up a five-game win streak at the end of the season before falling to No. 1-seed FIU in the final round of the AAC Tournament.
For the first round of the NCAA Tournament, USF hosted Hofstra and won 4-2. The Bulls’ season came to an end in the second round in a 4-0 blowout from No. 1 Kentucky.
Here are some highlights from one of the Bulls’ best seasons since 2012, or the last time they made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Game of the year
USF @ No. 22 on Oct. 25
During conference play, South Florida defeated then-No. 22 Charlotte in a 2-1 win from a last minute goal. This was the first match won in the team’s five-game winning streak.
Sophomore forward Oscar Resano, who was a vital player in the Bulls’ season this year, placed the game-winning goal from a header with four seconds remaining.
Resano led the team with two shots in the game and received the assist from sophomore center back Brian Schaefer.
The Bulls finished the game with 10 shots compared to the 49ers nine, and had three saves from redshirt senior goalkeeper Jackson Weyman.
Season heartbreaker of the year
USF @ No. 1 seed FIU on Nov. 13
For the AAC Championship final, USF was blown out 2-0 by No. 1 seed FIU (14-4-1, 6-2-1 AAC).
Earlier in the season, USF tied 3-3 with the Panthers despite playing a man down in the last 24 minutes due to junior midfielder Takeru Moriyama getting a red card in the 66th minute. Schaefer and Resano both had goals in this match with the addition of sophomore forward Segun Afolabi.
The Bulls were shut out by the Panthers early in the first half of the final after two goals were placed on them at the 24 and 41 minute, defining the score for the night’s match.
South Florida was unable to secure one on the board going into the second half, ultimately causing the team to fall short in getting its 15th AAC title win.
FIU outshot USF 14-6 and had 11 fouls compared to six from the Bulls.
USF had a knack for goals this season
Leading the team in goals this season was Resano with six, followed by junior midfielder Ajmeer Spengler with five and graduate student Alfred Perez with three.
All three strikers had their share of well-taken goals both in and outside of the 18-yard box.
Resano had a knack for sneaking through the opponent’s defenders and finding empty pockets in the net where he was able to put his team in the lead. He did this in then-No. 22 Charlotte’s regular-season conference match on Oct. 25, as well as placing the equalizer while hosting Hofstra (14-4-3, 5-2-2 CAA) on Nov. 17.
Spengler’s composure in the midfield this season and his 47.6% shot accuracy is what led him to have five goals in his debut season with the Bulls, shooting from outside the 18-yard box and slipping them into the top corners of the net.
Perez’s highlight goal of the season was his bicycle kick against Memphis (9-6-4, 5-3-1 AAC) on Oct. 28 that opened the scoreboard at the 67th minute.
Junior defender Sergio Pineros-Mayorga also placed his first career goal during that match, giving them a 2-0 victory over the Tigers.
South Florida had a strong offense, but there were some key defenders who held it down in the backline.
Starting as goalkeeper for the Bulls this season was Weyman who had previously spent his soccer career at Marquette University and training with the Chicago Fire F.C.
Weyman started and played in all 19 games this season and racked up a total of 67 saves in 1,710 minutes of play time. He only allowed 26 goals this season.
Junior defender Salvatore Mazzaferro also made an impact with the Bulls, capping 11 shots in 18 game appearances from the back line.
In 2021, Mazzaferro started in all 15 games and recorded a total of 1,380 minutes of playing time, proving once again his importance to the South Florida’s defensive line.
Schaefer also helped offensively from his position as center defender with 16 game appearances, two goals and two assists.
USF finished its 2022-23 season with 28 goals and 244 shots despite starting out rough.
Overall Grade: B