The men’s soccer team emphatically retained the Rowdies Cup with a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Spartans on Saturday night at Corbett Stadium.
Tampa hung in with the Bulls for the first half. They kept USF from threatening often and outshot the Bulls 7-5, forcing four saves from Christian Knight in his 45 minutes in net.
Midfielder Ricardo Gomez broke the deadlock in the 40th minute, wiring a shot to the far post just past a diving Richard Trench. The Bulls then caught the Spartans sleeping at the beginning of the second half, scoring in the 47th minute. Freshman Kori Cupid played a long ball to fellow freshman Adrian Billhardt, who played it off his chest and fired a 20-yard volley that dipped hard into the net.
USF piled it on Spartans backup keeper Jake Richards in the last five minutes. In the 86th minute, Tomasz Skublak headed home a cross from Stephen Rudderham. Two minutes later, Skublak headed a ball up the field that fell for Rudderham, who rolled the ball past Richards for the fourth USF goal of the night. The Bulls immediately regained possession off the kickoff and Skublak finished off a cross from Avionne Flanagan for his second goal of the night to make it 5-0. The Bulls simply outpaced Tampa for so long that their defense ended up completely gassed, allowing USF to take advantage late.
After the game, new skipper Bob Butehorn reflected on the bittersweet feeling he had, defeating his alma mater with his new club. He quickly added that the team still had a long road to go, despite the commanding victory. Butehorn said after USF’s win vs Eckerd that he wanted to see growth against Tampa, and that what he saw tonight was “small steps. There are steps that they’re taking. As long as they continue to listen and learn, I can be a good coach and we can be a good team.”
He also had a message for the fans: “You see what we do with 1,000 fans (official attendance for the night was 1,027). Just imagine what we do when we get 4,000.
“I challenge (everyone) to get out here, because it’s a good brand of soccer we’re gonna play. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. I got some crazies that sit behind the goals, they can join in. It’s time, it’s gonna be a great environment.”
The men’s team returns to Corbett Stadium for one more preseason friendly Thursday at 6:00 against Nova Southeastern.