Ohio is for lovers. That is, unless you love USF Men's soccer. The Bulls left home last weekend looking to get back on their feet after being handed a disappointing first loss, 1-0, from South Carolina. They closed out their homestand with a 2-1 win over Iona, knowing that they had a much larger mountain to scale in their next tournament. The recently disgraced Bulls, now 11th ranked in the nation after falling from #2, made a trip up north to Akron, OH for the University of Akron Tournament with a serious chance to regain national respect with two solid matches.
On Friday afternoon, USF kicked off a 4:30 match with nearby Butler (1-1-3). USF got out to an encouraging lead as Leston Paul assisted Roberto Altiero, who struck the net in the 33rd minute. Soon later, in the 38th minute, Butler made a defensive mistake and turned the ball over in their own backfield, where Ricardo Webb was waiting to bury a second USF goal. USF entered halftime up 2-0, and Eric Osswald had made two saves already. USF was in control of the lead until Butler's Chad Rigg caught a break with a ball that bounced off USF's defense into his path, and scored with under 12 minutes in regulation. As Butler's defense made it impossible for USF to get back into the net with four saves by keeper Jon Dawson, their offense was working hard to tie it up. In the 83rd minute, Brandon Fricke hit an equalizer. Despite two extra time periods, neither team could score, and they settled for a 2-2 tie.
USF got a day of rest, as the schedule allowed them to take Saturday off to prepare for the main event. Akron (5-1-2), fresh off its own first loss of the season to Notre Dame, was in the distance for the Bulls. The big game kicked off at 7:30 on Sunday night, and surely a win over the #9 Zips would restore USF's confidence. The outcome was not exactly what the team had in mind. Seemingly immediately, USF was outplayed, allowing a textbook assisted goal in the 14th minute. The Bulls had opportunities, but Akron goalie David Meves was impermeable, recording three first half saves. Heading into the half down 1-0, USF was not out. Perhaps then it was their aggressiveness on offense that accounted for Akron's absolute control over the second half. Despite Osswald's three saves, Akron racked up four second-half goals while USF did not manage a single shot on goal in the second half. USF was outshot 18-6 in the Akron game, ultimately losing 5-0, their worst since losing by the same score to #1 Wake Forest in the 2008 Elite Eight.
The team will return home on Saturday, September 22 to kick off their Big East schedule against Providence (2-4-1)at 7:30. After that, a very talented Florida Gulf Coast (3-3-0) team awaits for a midweek intrastate showdown in Tampa on Tuesday at 7:30.