TAMPA - After 90 minutes of exciting end-to-end soccer it only took the University of South Florida men's soccer team an extra 43 seconds to hand Valparaiso a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime defeat Tuesday night at the USF Soccer Stadium.
Bernardo Anor scored the games only goal on off a free kick from Javed Mohammed to improve the Bulls' record to 3-0-0 and drop the Crusaders to 1-2-0. The win marks the third time in the past five years that USF has started the season 3-0 and improved its home unbeaten streak to 20 games.
The Bulls, however, came out of the locker room to start the game sluggish, and saw Valparaiso pretty much dictate the tempo for the first 20 minutes. It was at that point that USF started to move the ball up the field and use its athleticism to execute head coach George Kiefer's game plan of creating opportunities on the offensive end.
The Bulls had several close chances in the first period from 18 yards in but could not connect. Both Hasani Sinclair, from the close left wing, and Zak Boggs, with a rocket from inside the box, at 27:54 and 28:42 respectively, gave the Bulls their first good opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net.
USF would keep the onslaught coming with three big shots in the final six minutes by Ashani Fairclough, Sebastian Thuriere and Francisco Aristeguieta. Valparaiso goalkeeper Ryan Schwartz would make the saves on Fairclough and Thuriere's shots - two of the five he made in the first half - while Aristeguieta's went high from the top of the box as time expired.
USF, who outshot the Crusaders 9-3 in the first 45 minutes of action, saw things even off in the second half as the Bulls only outshot Valparaiso by one, 5-4.
The Bulls would continue to take advantage of its athletic ability over the Crusaders as they would get in the box for several good looks at the goal, however could not connect.
Anor, who didn't start the game but came into the contest at the intermission, started to make his presence felt immediately.
The native from Caracas, Venezuela, who played in only six games last season due to a knee injury, took his first shot of the night in the 51st minute from the close left wing. He would then get two more dangerous looks from the close right wing in the 70th minute and from the far right wing with just more than two minutes left in regulation. Both attempts forced Schwartz to make key saves to keep the Crusaders in the game.
Anor, however, wouldn't waste any time in the extra session. After a Valparaiso foul on Jaymie Bullard 42 seconds into the overtime, Anor would take the assist from Mohammed off the free kick and bury the ball in the back of the goal for the game winner just one second later.
The score was the first of the year for Anor, while the assist from Mohammed marked the second straight game that he figured in the game winning goal. Mohammed scored the game winner at Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday in the 87th minute with a bender off a free kick.
On the night, the Bulls would out shoot the Crusaders 15-7, with eight of the 15 shots coming on goal. Valparaiso however would have the advantage in corner kicks with a 10-5 margin.
In net for USF, Jeff Attinella recorded three saves and turned in his second straight shutout. Schwartz had seven saves on eight shots on goal for the Crusaders.
USF will now hit the road to face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. before returning home for its first BIG EAST weekend of the year when they will face Marquette on Sept. 18 (7:30 p.m.) and Notre Dame on Sept. 20 (1 p.m.).
Season tickets for USF men's soccer games are $40 for adults and $20 for youths and senior citizens. Adult individual match tickets are $6, while youth and senior citizen admission is $3. All groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2.50 per ticket. All USF students will be admitted at no cost when they display their student ID.