By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
A patient offense and relentless defense have the No. 4 Bulls off to a 2-0 start this season.
Ben Sweat scored the game-winning goal for the second straight time in the USF men's soccer team's 1-0 win over SMU on Friday afternoon at the Hurricane Classic in Tulsa, Okla. Keeper Eric Osswald recorded his first-career shutout and didn't even have to face a shot on goal as SMU managed just five total shots.
"SMU is one of the top teams in the country and to be that good defensively this early, not even give them a shot on goal, I think is a real credit to the experience we have on our back line," head coach George Kiefer said.
Friday's first half featured two teams struggling to gain the upper hand with seven combined shots. The period's lone save was recorded by SMU keeper Jaime Ibarra off a shot by Samuel Hosseini in the 36th minute.
Just like the season opener, USF's offense got a big boost from an upperclassmen in the second half.
Sweat, a junior, got his second goal of the year in the 74th minute by beating Ibarra from about 6 yards out on the left side of the net.
"The keeper had no chance for it," said Kiefer of Sweat, who was all alone in front of the net.
Sweat scored the game-winner last Friday to get USF past Michigan, 2-1, in a contest televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel.
The assist on Sweat's go-ahead goal against SMU came off a lengthy pass from senior Brenton Griffiths, who tied the game for the Bulls in the second half against the Wolverines.
"We either play in front of you or behind you. Brenton hit Ben well and Ben scored an awesome goal just beating the keeper with power," Kiefer said.
Aside from the back line, Kiefer credited Osswald's all-around game as a big contributor to SMU not getting a shot on goal.
"He's communicating, keeping the box tight and he's also coming for balls that sometimes keepers wouldn't come for and they leave a second ball," Kiefer said. "He's controlling his box well."
Kiefer also liked the pressure his offense put on the Mustangs. The Bulls posted 11 shots and just missed out on chances to beat the Mustangs by numerous goals.
"We could have scored three or four goals tonight," he said. "I was really pleased with the chances we created and the spots that we got into. It was a very solid performance so early in the season."
USF finishes up its run at the Hurricane Classic with a meeting with host Tulsa on Sunday at 8 p.m.