The Road Warriors Ride Again Saturday
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - When the Bulls pack up and head out of Tampa, they've become the road warriors this men's soccer season.
USF is unbeaten in six games away from Corbett Soccer Stadium and has taken down soccer Goliaths like Wake Forest and West Virginia along the way.
"Road games are a really good time to prove who you are," keeper Chris Blais said. "Our team all year, we've felt like we've been a little big disrespected and not given enough credit."
The Bulls initial statement was made in their season opener Aug. 27 against No. 13 Wake Forest. Dom Dwyer, the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, scored the first of his 16 goals this season and USF shocked the Demon Deacons, 2-0, before a rowdy crowd of 4,123 at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The game was mandatory for new Wake Forest students during orientation weekend and things got revved up when the Demon Deacon did his traditional motorcycle ride onto the field.
"After we scored the second goal, a bunch of my guys are on like big choppers," said head coach George Kiefer of the team's Demon Deacon impression. "I was like OK; they've got some confidence to them."
USF's wild ride to victory through opponents' houses continued Sept. 25 with a 2-1 at West Virginia. Dwyer had another goal in this one, while the Bulls halted the No. 16 Mountaineers' longest home winning streak in the nation at 13 games.
"When you go on the road, you make a real statement when you win games," Blais said.
The ride hasn't always been smooth for USF, which had to dig deep at Syracuse on Oct. 15. The rain was whipping, the wind was kicking and USF found itself in a 2-0 hole at halftime.
"The weather was horrible. The field was horrible, but we got in the locker room and we all were talking to each other," Blais remembered. "We got back out there and found a way to win."
Dwyer scored the USF's initial goal on a penalty kick and Roberto Alterio sent the game to overtime with 1:43 remaining in the second half. Dwyer's second goal made USF a big winner.
"A lot of teams would have crumbled," Blais said.
Now comes USF's biggest road gig of the season. The seventh-seeded Bulls put their 5-0-1 road record on the line 2 p.m. Saturday when they play at No. 2 seed Creighton in the Elite Eight.
There's a good chance Creighton's 5,000-seat stadium will be filled with loud fans and USF wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's going to be a real hostile environment, probably the most people we've played in front of all season, but our team has really thrived on that," Blais said. "We've been really good on the road all year."