By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The Bulls showed the Cardinals and the nation their ability to seize control of a game Tuesday night.
The No. 8 USF men’s soccer team jumped out to a 3-0 first half lead and held on strong for a 3-1 victory at No. 10 Louisville in a game televised on ESPNU. The Bulls (10-2-2, 5-0-1 in Big East) remained unbeaten in the conference, and in their past eight games as well.
“A lot of teams come to Louisville, go into a shell and try to hang on,” USF head coach George Kiefer said. “We wanted to take a different approach and we wanted to take the game to them. We wanted to be the aggressor and I thought we did a good job of that.”
USF didn’t waste much time accomplishing the feat and ended up handing the Cardinals only their second home loss in eight games this season. Last season the defending Big East champions went 11-0-1 at home.
The Bulls busted out to a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game when Kevin Olali stayed calm in traffic near the box after getting a rebound off a header by a Louisville player and finessed a shot past the keeper.
“We’ve been working with Kevin on that in training, just keeping the ball and track and passing it into the goal,” Kiefer said. “I was happy to see it pay off for us.”
USF’s constant offensive pressure ended up making the Louisville defense boil over before the break.
The Bulls were back at it in Louisville territory in the 13th minute when they hit a corner kick that went off the head of defender for an own goal.
USF forced Louisville to get it another assist when a cross in Cardinals territory went off the head of diving defender Chase Rodgers for another own goal in the 19th minute.
“I think it’s pushing their backs under pressure, serving balls in and getting their hips facing their own goal,” said Kiefer of USF’s philosophy. “We clearly from the get-go wanted to be the aggressor in the game and I think that paid off for us.”
USF played into 15-20 MPH winds in the second half and nearly came away with a shutout until Louisville’s Nick DeLeon made good on a penalty kick in the 59th minute.
“The goal that they got was preventable,” Kiefer said. “If we were a little bit smarter, I think we would have walked out of here with a shutout.”
USF will look to keep the heat on its opponent at home Saturday night when it faces Villanova at 7:30 p.m.