The Bob Butehorn era of USF men’s soccer opened with an emphatic 4-0 preseason victory over Eckerd College on Tuesday night at Corbett Stadium.
The men rolled out a 3-5-2 formation (three defenders, fivemidfielders, two strikers) and absolutely dominated the game. The Bulls looked a bit unsure during the first 10 minutes, but as they settled in, the pace began to build and build into a freight train of momentum. In the 26th minute, sophomore Luis Garza backheeled the ball to senior striker Bradley Farias to spring him free inside the box. Farias hammered the ball far post for the first preseason goal for the Bulls.
The game was played in three 30-minute periods, and the Bulls exploded during the second period. In half an hour, USF had peppered Eckerd with 13 shots, scoring three goals. In the 36th minute, freshman Josue Monge fired a missile from 25 yards out into the side netting for a spectacular first goal in a USF shirt.
Another freshman, Trey Jackson, added a brace (a two-goal game). First, he played a 1-2 (a give and go move) with yet another freshman, Aiden Bauer Marr, across the top of the box, which he sent far post in the 41st minute. Nine minutes later, freshman (sensing a theme here?) Avionne Flanagan sent a cross in from the left side. Farias settled the ball, but fell away under defensive pressure. Jackson stepped to the loose ball and sent a thunderbolt into the top of the net.
The third period was goalless, but USF had several excellent chances, unfinished simply due to inexperience by the third (and youngest) lineup sent out by Coach Butehorn.
USF’s new look was very offensive-minded at an absolutely blistering pace. While hashtags can sometimes have secondary meaning, USF’s #PlayFast is extremely literal, and the Bulls dominated on pace alone. It is absolutely different from the style of former skipper George Kiefer, who emphasized a slower, more patient attack. Coach Butehorn brings a relentless, lightning-fast attack that will not stop until the game is over.
After the game, Coach Butehorn was pleased with his team’s effort, but was already looking ahead to the next game and how his team could continue to grow. On the returning players adjusting to the new style of play, he said “They’re getting there. You can see they’re used a little bit slower pace and I’m telling them ‘go go go go go,’ so they’re getting there. I said earlier on, I like the group. I think, no matter what, that’s the big thing for me: to enjoy what I do, and they’re a good bunch. So we’ll see where we go.”
The Bulls certainly took care of business vs a D-II school, and should handle the rest of their exhibition games with ease. It remains to be seen how they’ll perform when the schedule ramps up, but everything looks promising for a strong start to Coach Butehorn’s first season at the helm of USF.
Next comes the annual Rowdies Cup match against the University of Tampa, this Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at Corbett. As always, the Rowdies’ Soccer Bowl 75 trophy is on the line. Be sure to come out to watch the new-look Bulls play in USF’s original trophy rivalry.