By SEAN BAROWS
TAMPA - Edwin Moalosi netted two goals for the Bulls as they defeated cross-town rival Tampa, 2-1, on Saturday night in front of 1,707 fans at Corbett Stadium to reclaim the Rowdies Cup.
The Bulls controlled the pace from the start and outshot the Spartans 14-1 in the first half. Despite all the chances it wasn’t until the 41st minute that Moalosi and USF were able to break the tie.
A loose ball in the box was sent towards goal by Gerardo Hernandez before Moalosi came streaking in to finish with a header into the empty net.
Moalosi added another about two and half minutes into the second half to give the Bulls a little breathing room and a 2-0 lead with a beautiful finish over Tampa goalkeeper David Niepel.
After the game Moalosi was just thankful to be on the field playing after suffering a broken tibia that kept him out nearly all of last season.
“I would like to thank my coaching staff because last year when I broke my tibia I felt like it was over and that I would never play soccer again,” Moalosi said. “Luckily now I feel very good coming back and playing soccer again which is something that I’ve been doing my whole life.”
The Bulls had a number of opportunities to expand their lead but Niepel came up with some big saves to keep the Spartans in the game and finished with eight saves on the night.
Tampa gave the Bulls all they could handle in the second half, recording seven of their eight shots during that time.
In the 68th minute forward Tyler Blackwood got the Spartans on the scoreboard when he collected a cross in the box and fired a shot into the lower left corner of the net.
However, the USF defense held strong for the final 23 minutes to preserve the victory and help give the Bulls their 17th win all-time against Tampa.
“I’m thankful to have Tampa so close because it’s a great game for us and Adrian (Tampa head coach) does a really good job with his team,” head coach George Kiefer said.
USF outshot Tampa 23-8 for the game and held the Spartans to only one shot in the first half. They also had nine corner kicks compared to only one for Tampa.
“I felt like we we’re really suffocating. I thought our pressure, how quickly we won the ball back (was good). I felt like we were on top of them, and as we go along in the season and I’m comfortable playing guys for longer stretches I feel like we’ll be able to get the third or the fourth goal against a team like that.”
The Bulls open the regular season 8 p.m. Friday night at Corbett Stadium against Florida Gulf Coast, a team the Bulls defeated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year.
“I can’t wait for the Gulf Coast game, to be honest I wish they were on a bus waiting right now and we could play them right now. We look forward to that game and that game is very important to us."
Get Your Season Tickets
Season tickets are on sale for both USF men’s and women’s soccer for $50 apiece HERE. Fans also can buy a four-person season ticket package for women's soccer at a cost of $100 that includes 11 regular season home games or a four-person season ticket package for men's soccer at a cost of $100 that includes 10 men’s contests.
A season ticket combo for both men's and women's games (general admission $75/family plan $150) also is available by calling 1-800-GoBulls.