The Dons just keep racking up wins under new head coach Eddie Soto.
USF earned two home victories during this past weekend, defeating Central Arkansas 2-0 on Sunday, and ousting nationally-ranked Florida Gulf Coast 1-0 on Friday. Both games were physical and hard-fought, but the Dons persevered and got two shutouts from senior goalkeeper Chase Hauser.
On Sunday, the Dons welcomed Central Arkansas to Negoesco Stadium, and proceeded to win in convincing fashion. In the first half, USF had a myriad of scoring opportunities, but was unable to register a goal despite leading 8-0 in shots attempted going into halftime. However, the Dons eventually got on the board in the 62nd minute of the game. Senior forward Sixto Porras was sprinting through the center of the box when he received a pass from freshman defender Manny Padilla from the right side, and Porras took full advantage by pounding a goal past Central Arkansas goalkeeper Harrison Veith. It was the first goal of the season for Porras.
The Dons later sealed the deal when senior forward Miguel Aguilar got a breakaway opportunity and had Veith one-on-one. Aguilar deked Veith by faking a shot towards the center of the net, and then veered to the left before scorching a goal into the top left corner of the net.
Aguilar’s third goal of the season secured the 2-0 victory for the Dons, but Hauser’s presence as the team’s defensive anchor was equally vital.
“Chase [Hauser] is our leader out there. He’s our voice out there,” assistant coach Alex Yi said. “We see Chase mature a little more, we ask more of Chase, and he embraces it.”
On Friday, USF faced the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, who came into the game ranked 24th in the nation. Like Sunday, the first half was scoreless, even though it was FGCU that dominated the pace of play early. Still, USF adjusted at halftime, and pulled through when sophomore forward David Garrett was tripped in the box to give USF a penalty kick in the 79th minute. Senior midfielder Danny Kirkland did the honors, blasting a goal past FGCU goalkeeper Nathan Ingham for his second goal of year. That goal proved to be the winner, as the Dons prevailed 1-0 in an intense match that featured two red cards.
“The style of soccer that we play is going to have a lot of teams wanting to kick us and wanting to disrupt our rhythm,” Kirkland said. “But the most important thing is that we keep our heads up, keep playing our game, and don’t let it get to us.”
The Dons are now 5-1 overall and 2-0 at home. USF’s next game will be on the road at Cal Poly on Friday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 p.m. The Dons won’t return home until Sept. 26 when they face UC Davis.