The USF men’s soccer team started confidently, winning their first two exhibition games of the season. Unfortunately, that streak did not prevail. The last four games ended in losses for the Dons.
“The scores of these past games have not been reflective of the team’s overall progress,” said Jordan Hughes, a junior midfielder. “We’ve scored a lot of goals the last couple of games and we’re doing better than the results show.”
The Dons managed to score seven goals in their last four games. Against UCLA, senior midfielder Leon Schwartzer scored twice, and junior midfielder Santiago Digiuseppe secured a goal as well. Following the UCLA game, the men’s team fell short against UC Davis, Indiana and Butler; all teams that are nationally ranked in the top 25. On top of that, the team has been faced with several injuries that changed the playing dynamic. Hunter Ashworth, a junior defender, injured his shoulder in the last few minutes of the game against Sacramento State. Ashworth was working hard to block an opposing player from a potential shot on goal, when the player illegally jumped onto him. This foul play left Ashworth with an AC Separation, where his clavicle separated from from his scapula, leaving him unable to play for at least four weeks.
“When the starting 11 players keep changing, it changes the rhythm and takes longer to adjust on the field,” Hughes said on the topic of injured players.
It’s true the start to this season has not been ideal for the Dons. However, the team is working hard to address small errors so they can ultimately succeed. Last Friday night, the team displayed strength and unity against the San Diego State Aztecs. The Dons played confidently and made significantly more shots-on-goal than the Aztecs. Unwavering, the team won in overtime with a header executed by Bryce Kaminski, senior forward.
The team this year has fewer players than in past seasons, but that doesn’t phase Noah Leong, a junior defender.
“Everyone is in a position to contribute, whether they are starting or not,” Leong said.
Both Hughes and Leong said that new freshmen on the team have been playing a significant role in training. The freshman players push the upperclassmen to work harder to keep their positions, knowing that there are others competing for them. Competitive training motivates the men’s team to make every effort to perform their best.
Even though the team is smaller in numbers, the players report that it is one of the most tight-knit teams that they have been a part of. The men’s team spends a lot of time with each other, on and off the field. This strong bond will help them to move past this rut and towards their ultimate goal of winning the WCC conference title.
Featured Photo: USFCA Starting XI @ SDSU (Men’s Soccer/Twitter)