By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – A strong team effort helped the rallying Bulls stop a streak that was the best in the nation.
Freshman Lucas Baldin’s goal on a free kick put the USF men’s soccer team ahead, 2-1, and the Bulls held on to snap West Virginia’s home winning streak at 13 games Sunday before a crowd of 1,375 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
“They’re the top team we’ve seen so far,” said USF head coach George Kiefer of the top-20 Mountaineers. “To beat them at their place with that streak they had going on, I think says a lot about our group.”
West Virginia (4-3-1) grabbed an early lead when Shadow Sebele beat USF keeper Chris Blais in the eighth minute during the Big East opener for both programs.
“West Virginia is athletic all over the field,” Kiefer said. “They’re a very, very talented team and they went up on us.”
USF (5-2-1) struck back about seven minutes later thanks to a lot of teamwork. Leston Paul and Wesley Charpie set Dom Dwyer up for his sixth goal of the season.
“Dom turned and just buried it,” Kiefer said.
The Bulls have been putting in extra time working on set pieces and it paid off in the 74th minute when Baldin took a free kick from about 25 yards out.
“To me, this was a highlight reel goal,” Kiefer said. “He just bent it around the wall into the side net with a lot of bend on it and a lot of pace on it.”
Blais made three saves in the game and saved his best for last by making a diving stop.
“He was fully extended and tipped it wide to keep us up 2-1,” Kiefer said.
Kiefer was thoroughly impressed by a Mountaineers team that came close to tying it up.
“I give them a lot of credit,” he said. “They’re going to have a great year.”
USF will be back in Tampa for its Big East home opener Saturday against Providence at 7:30 p.m.