USF men's soccer ties St. John's, 1-1
I'm late with this, but correspondent Kerry Klecic checks in from USF Soccer Stadium on Saturday night, where the Bulls faced St. John's in a rematch of last year's Big East championship game.TAMPA – For the second straight match, the No. 3 USF men’s soccer team dropped points in the Big East Red Division.
On Saturday, it was St. John’s that frustrated the Bulls, holding them to a 1-1 draw at the USF Soccer Stadium in a rematch of last year’s Big East championship game.
On Wednesday, No. 12 Louisville took care of USF 1-0. St. John’s, which made it to last year’s Final Four, entered as fourth in the division. However, with a Villanova win Saturday, the Bulls move into fourth.
USF junior goalkeeper Jeff Attinella said the last week has been struggle for the team.
“It’s been a tough week for us,” he said. “We lost to Louisville, and I think if the St. John’s game would have happened on a week we weren’t entering with a loss, we would have done a lot better. I think the work is there, but we just have to get a little lucky.”
It could have been worse for the Bulls, too. St. John’s looked to have sealed victory in first period of overtime with a golden goal, when junior Trevor Chiduku flicked a shot past Attinella. The Red Storm bench jumped up in excitement, but Chiduku was called offside by referee Bill Dittmar.
For a majority of the night, USF withstood mounting St. John’s pressure.
“St John’s came to Tampa to beat us. They didn’t come here to steal the game,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “I prefer that. A lot of teams in the Big East will sit back and defend and hope for a restart, so I enjoyed playing a team that throws stuff at us. I’m a little disappointed with a tie but we’ll take it.
Both teams traded goals in the first 65 minutes, and both had chances to try and break the deadlock in the second half. After St. John’s and USF struggled to find any opening in a majority of the first half, the Bulls took a 1-0 lead minutes before halftime.
Senior Ogi Perucica outmuscled two St. John’s defenders to win a long ball inside the Red Storm’s box. Perucica then floated a shot over the charging keeper, and it deflected off the crossbar into USF senior forward Zak Boggs’ path, who bicycle kicked it into the far corner of the net.
“Ogi has been working hard and got rewarded for it … He fights for every lose ball, so that helps a lot,” Kiefer said.
The Red Storm equalized in the 62nd, when junior Sverre Gundhus sent a low, left-footed cross into the box and redshirt junior forward Adam Himeno deflected with his right knee past Attinella.
Gundhus tested Attinella three minutes later as well, forcing a diving save with a right-footed, curling effort that was on target. USF junior defender Javed Mohammed also had a chance to get a game-winner, but his curling free kick from close range in the 80th minute was high and wide.
With the draw, USF moves its home unbeaten streak to 24 matches. All but one of USF’s remaining matches are against teams below them in the standings.
“We’re pretty confident in ourselves, but we know we have to get better,” Attinella said. “It’s been the same story all year: We have to get better.”
Game note: Boggs, the Big East Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2008, left Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury and did not return. He was unavailable for comment after the game, but Kiefer said it was “a minor thing.” Boggs was second in scoring last year for the Bulls.