The USF men’s soccer team suffered its fourth straight loss in the 2018 season with a 2-1 loss to #20 Creighton in Tampa on Labor Day.
The Bulls finally cracked the scoreboard for the first time in the new campaign when senior striker Tomasz Skublak took advantage of a whiffed clearance by a Creighton defender and chipped Bluejay keeper Paul Kruse in the 65th minute.
However, it wasn’t enough to overcome two errors by the USF defense, one that led to a penalty in the fourth minute, and a 1-on-1 chance for Creighton with junior USF keeper Harrison Devenish-Mears in the 19th minute.
“Well, I thought our first half was pretty poor,” said a rather blunt Coach Bob Butehorn after the game. “I think we came out, again, tentative. Looked immature, a little inexperienced, gave up a soft on three mistakes by some young guys. We paid for that and put ourselves a goal down, then turn around and gave another one up. Tough first half.”
It was hard to argue with Butehorn’s opening statement. The Bulls looked like they were pressing during the first minute of the game, but were deflated quickly after the penalty.
However, they came out of the halftime locker room swinging. The introduction of freshman midfielder Felipe Baptista added some life to the Bulls during the end of the first half and it carried over, eventually resulting in the lone goal.
It was also nasty contest. Sophomore midfielder Emilio Ycaza made frankly a clean challenge in front of the grandstands and the Creighton player went over on his own ankle. Ycaza was carded for the challenge and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
Bluejay Akeem Ward got away with a possible red card offense when, after a dead ball, walked up to the back of Skublak and gave him a huge two-handed shove. Ward got away with a yellow and would go on to score the game winning goal.
The Bulls pressed hard after scoring and came close several times to a second, but couldn’t find the finishing touch again. The game ended on a USF corner that saw a Bull go for a bicycle kick in desperation. As the ball was cleared, both teams had a player down and a ruckus ensued as the final whistle went. Eventually both sides separated and went about their business.
There’s a lot of things to consider about the men’s season so far. The second half was encouraging from the high pressure the Bulls exerted on Creighton. The lack of goal scoring has not been as encouraging, but the strength of the schedule needs to be considered too, especially as the Bulls travel to Ohio State for their next game.
“One of the things I said about the schedule we played,” said Butehorn, “is there’s no room for error. We’re playing teams that are very good, there’s a lot of seniors on them, they’re generally ranked. (Creighton) beat (former #11) Clemson, and so it is what it is. We’ve got no place to hide, and we’re learning, and we’re in positions now where we’re having to make really educated decisions, and we’re being punished if we don’t. So it’s actually good and we’re hoping it continues to pay dividends at the end of the year.”
Keeper Devenish-Mears garnered AAC Goalkeeper of the Week last week for his performances. However, the junior said after the game he really wasn’t paying it much mind.
“Personal accolades are great, but I just want this team to win. I couldn’t care less about personal accolades right now,” he said after the game. “We’re not getting the results, whether it’s an unlucky reason or whether we haven’t really just clicked yet. I just really want that win because I know the potential that we have, and that it could kick fire to our season to where I think it could go.”
The Bulls get no break as they travel to Ohio State next Friday before returning home to face FAU on Monday, Sept. 10th.