The good news: the Stanford Cardinals only managed to score one goal against the Dons on Friday night, marking the lowest number of goals allowed thus far in the men’s soccer season. The bad news? That goal against the Dons was the only one scored in that evening, giving yet another tick in the loss column for the Dons.
USF went into Friday night’s game still on the mend from a loss to Fullerton. That loss was especially disappointing, as the Dons managed to keep the first half of the game scoreless. Their defensive momentum faltered just before the clock hit the 57-minute mark. A goal by Fullerton began a domino effect, resulting in 3 goals scored against USF in just over 20 minutes.
USF’s next opponent — the Stanford Cardinals — currently sit at #1 in the rankings and are seeking a third consecutive NCAA championship title. While the 0-3 loss against the Cardinals is a tough one, especially considering the scoreless circumstances, the Dons never once stopped fighting for another goal.
Both Stanford and USF proved their offensive strength, leveling out at three shots-on-goal each throughout the game. However, USF’s defensive power was not enough to sustain them. Just over 11 minutes in, Stanford brought the heat with their single goal. USF’s three shots on goal – including one courtesy of senior forward Bryce Kaminski, the driving force behind the overtime goal against San Diego State University earlier this month – veered frustratingly off-target. To put it simply, the Dons could not capitalize on their opportunities to tie the game.
Despite their loss, the team’s considerable defensive resilience shone through. The season low-goal allowance can be partially attributed to freshman goalkeeper Ruben Stuiver, who is proving his worth as a valuable asset to have in front of the net. On his second regular-season appearance with USF, Stuiver managed eight saves against UC Davis. With a solid defensive backing both in and out of the net, the Dons have a ready foundation for consistent success.
The Dons went into Sunday’s home game against Cal looking to break their scoreless streak and add another “W” to their record. The game itself was extremely physical – with USF amassing 14 fouls throughout, including a red card for Bryce Kaminski – and the first period was electric, with USF answering to each of the two goals that Cal put in during the first 19 minutes. However, USF’s efforts simply weren’t enough to surpass Cal, who buried a shot in the 84th minute to turn the 2-2 tie in their favor.
Next up, the Dons will face the San Jose State Spartans on Friday here at Negoesco Stadium. The Spartans are also victims of the same offensive line curse this season, with two of their three recorded losses so far being completely scoreless on their end. It will be exciting to see how these two teams duke it out on the field, with both offenses having something to prove.
Going forward, it will be crucial for the Dons to take advantage of every scoring opportunity they are presented with. However, in these situations, it’s easier said by an armchair quarterback than done by even the most determined athlete. It seems as though all the ingredients for success are present — steadfast offense, tireless defense and powerful force between the posts. So long as the Dons keep resisting the pressure to fold when scored against, we have every reason to believe that they can break their losing streak just as they did with their scoreless streak.
Featured Photo: Goalkeeper Ruben Stuiver smothers a shot by Cal Berkeley at Negesco Stadium. HALEY BURCHER/FOGHORN