TAMPA -The Bulls booked another NCAA tournament game at Corbett
Stadium thanks to perfection when pressure was at the highest level.
Leston Paul capped off a 5-for-5 performance by USF shooters
in penalty kicks to help the Bulls outlast the Eagles, 5-3, Thursday night
after the first-round game remained scoreless through two OT periods. The Bulls
will host a second tournament game 6 p.m. Sunday against Tulsa.
“We knew for sure all of our players were going to score.
That’s how confident we were going in,” said Paul, who beat FGCU keeper Nathan
Ingham to secure the victory.
Kevin Olali, Lucas Baldin, Gerardo Hernandez and Ashani
Fairclough also scored in the shootout to help the Bulls extend their sixth
consecutive tournament trip. USF had a 2-1 advantage when the momentum
completely swung the Bulls’ way after FGCU’s Aaron Guillen shot wide of the
Keeper Dallas Jaye notched his first tournament win after
making two saves and directing a USF defense that secured its sixth shutout of
“A lot of our focus has been on defending and to get a
shutout against a very good Florida Gulf Coast team, I was pleased with that,”
head coach George Kiefer said.
The Eagles were able to keep things tied all the way up to
the shootout thanks in large part to Ingham, who made six saves with two coming
in highlight-reel fashion.
“He made two saves where I was shocked,” Kiefer said. “I was
off the bench thinking we had won the game. I have to give credit to him.”
USF is now 2-0 against FGCU this season after a 3-0 win at
Corbett Stadium on Sept. 25 and now the focus quickly shifts to a dangerous
Tulsa team. The Golden Hurricane (13-5-1) earned a first-round bye after
winning the Conference USA title.
The Bulls defeated Tulsa, 2-1, earlier this season in
Oklahoma and Kiefer knows another tough test is ahead on Sunday.
“Tulsa is an excellent team. They won their conference
final, 5-0. They have some good talent,” Kiefer said.