It took overtime, but the USF men’s soccer team beat SMU 1-0 in Dallas Saturday night. Combined with losses by UConn and Cincinnati, the Bulls claimed the American’s regular-season championship and earned the right to host the conference tournament, which begins Friday, November 11.
As both matches finished up, USF was tied 0-0 with SMU at the end of regulation. SMU outshot the Bulls 10-9 in the 90 minutes of regular time, but the Bulls had the better chances of the night, including a shot that clanked off the far post.
It took 102 minutes and 38 seconds to find the game-winner. Off a corner, defender Liam McNally found a loose ball in the box and volleyed a bouncing ball to the near post. The ball was almost blocked by SMU keeper Michael Nelson, but McNally put just enough on the ball to find the net.
Winning the regular season is almost unexpected to those who follow the men’s soccer team. The Bulls were very poor out of conference, going winless in their first five matches and then dropping their two late non-conference games in the middle of conference play. However, a huge win at UConn helped give the Bulls kick on and claim the last six points they needed for the regular-season crown.
The Bulls will wait for the rest of their opponents to sort out the field in the tournament. In the meantime, their senior night is Saturday against Temple, with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Corbett Stadium.
The women punched their own ticket to the conference tournament on Sunday afternoon at Tulsa with a 3-2 win.
Needing a result to get to the conference tournament, the Bulls scored early and often. They went up 2-0 in the first five minutes of the game, and nabbed the game winner early in the second half. The Bulls outshot Tulsa 17-12, with an 11-8 edge in shots on target.
Freshman Evelyne Viens scored twice (5’, 51’) to tie Kristine Edner’s single-season goal scoring record with 16. Not enough can be said about Viens’ first year at USF - she’s been absolutely electric to watch. Andrea Hauksdottir scored the opening goal in the 4th minute, and Trudi Carter picked up two assists in the last regular season game of the year.
After an extremely hot start to the year, the women stumbled early in conference play when the competition began to ramp up. However, the Bulls recovered to collect 14 points in conference, good for fourth place and a place in the conference tournament.
USF has reached the final in each of the last two years. They begin the conference tournament against fifth-place Cincinnati this Wednesday in Storrs.