USF men’s soccer season ended on November 21st after being defeated by Louisville 4-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulls conceded two goals in less than three minutes in the first half, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 halftime lead over USF. The second half found USF back within one when Josue Monge scored in the 68th minute, but it was quickly answered less than a minute later. Louisville got an insurance goal in the 81st minute to end USF’s season.
Record: 10-7-1*, 4-3 in the AAC
Breakdown: 7-3-1 at Home, 4-3 on the road. 0-1-0 at neutral sites
Post Season: Defeated UConn in the AAC Tournament, Lost to SMU in the semi-finals of the AAC Tournament. Lost to Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
September 9th, defeating no. 5 Louisville 2-0
The Bulls got a nice resume boosting win early in the season when they defeated then no. 5 Louisville 2-0. Goals by Josue Monge and Victor Claudel proved to be the difference maker for USF.
October 1st, defeating FGCU 1-0
Head Coach Bob Butehorn’s previous school came to Tampa hungry for a prime victory to boost their confidence, but it was the Bulls who came away as victors. Javain Brown scored in the 37th minute, and the defense kept FGCU to limited opportunities to help secure a win.
NCAA Selection Show
The Bulls did just enough in the season to be selected as an At-Large bid in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. The Bulls drew the top right bracket where they traveled to take on Louisville in the first round.
October 18th, loss at Temple 3-1
USF traveled up to Temple after a resounding 4-1 victory over JU as a break for conference play, and got gutted by the Owls. Despite leading in nearly every major statistical category, Temple found the back of the net three times to hurt the Bulls chances of securing a high seed in the conference tournament.
November 3rd, loss vs SMU 2-1 2OT
This one hurt the most, the Bulls fought their way back into this game and took it to the very brink of overtime. During the second overtime, SMU had a corner kick bounce around in the box and appear to hit an SMU player in the arm for a handball. No call was made and the ball found the back of the net, giving SMU a golden goal to go to the championship game where they defeated UCF to win back-to-back AAC championships.
August 29th, season opener against no. 1 Maryland
The Bulls opened the season against the reigning national champion Maryland Terrapins at College Park, MD. Despite the tall task, the Bulls battled valiantly before conceding in the 70th minute off of a nifty header by Maryland’s Malcolm Johnston. There are very few times you reward a loss, but for USF, this game was close enough that they were able to build some confidence that they would carry throughout the season.
USF-Tulsa taking nine days to finish
USF traveled to Tulsa on October 5th and played 68 minutes with the Bulls leading 2-1. Bad weather rolled into Tulsa and the game was abandoned and to be made up at a future time. According to the NCAA rulebook, if a game is abandoned in the 70th minute or beyond, it can be considered final, but the Bulls were two minutes off of that mark. Nine days later, after Tulsa had battled and lost to UCF the night before, USF and Tulsa finished the final 21:36 seconds of the match to the 2-1 final.
Due to this, there is an asterisk next to USF’s record, as the game only counts towards the AAC standings and AAC postseason awards, and will not count towards the NCAA statistics or standings.
In our men’s soccer season outlook at the beginning of the season, we noted how USF had to replace their leading goal scorer to graduation, and one of the top returning players left the program to pursue other interests. In their places, junior Adrian Billhardt and true freshmen Victor Claudel stepped up to lead at the striker position. Billhardt scored six goals in the last seven games of the season and Claudel started all but one game this year, totaling three goals and two assists.
Sophomore Javain Brown showed why he was an international sensation, recording three goals and one assist, while playing 1,443 minutes for the Bulls, good for second on the team.
The Bulls will need to replace their starting goalkeeper from the last two seasons, with Harrison Devenish-Meares graduating from the program. The Aussie played in 35 games as a Bull, collecting 116 saves, and a 71% save percentage. The only other goalie to play this season was true freshmen Cooper Blay, who played against JU and Temple this season.
Going into next season, the Bulls will have a strong senior class to lead the program. Adrian Billhardt, Freddy Gil, Trey Jackson, Josue Monge and Avionne Flanagan will all be seniors who will look to bring USF a conference championship next season.