In the most exciting match of the season so far USF men’s soccer toppled Cal State Northridge 2-1 in double overtime. Sophomore forward Oscar Englund smashed a beautiful, first- touch shot into the back of the net to end what looked to be a 1-1 draw, in the 108th minute. Senior Bryan Burke used his astonishing speed to track down a header pass by Jeff Penna that looked to be surely out of bounds. Burke drew the Matador goalie off his line and found Englund at the top of the box, firing a perfect pass that allowed Englund to smoothly earn the Dons their second win of the season. Fans and alumni went crazy storming the field to celebrate the last minute victory.
The visiting Matadors came out strong; threatening the Don’s in the first minute, but goalkeeper Jojo Vitale came up with an awe inspiring save acrobatically tipping the ball over the crossbar. In his first match for the Dons, Vitale had a standout performance: he controlled his box, had pinpoint distribution and made 6 saves, 2 of which were in overtime.
Junior defender Samir Najmeh also played a solid game in only his 5th start for the Dons. In the 48th minute Najmeh settled the ball on the left flank and let loose a beautiful bending cross that found freshman forward Tanner Smith at the far post. Using his size to his advantage, Smith flicked the ball just out of the goalies reach.
After competitive play from both sides, the Matadors were dealt a major blow when midfielder Luis Gil was issued a red card for saying inappropriate things to the referee. With a man advantage the Dons should have been able to easily close out the game.
Unfortunately in the 73rd minute Northridge earned a throw- in deep in Don’s territory. Northridge forward Mattias Bonvehi took advantage of Nicholas Hamilton’s long distance throw-in with a bicycle kick straight into the lower corner. The goal gave the Matadors a huge confidence boost especially because they were playing with only ten men. With this pivotal change of momentum the Matadors confidence grew exponentially and forced the Dons to reorganize their defensive shape.
The Dons got a glimpse of glory when Najmeh found himself with the ball on the left flank once again. This time he launched a shot toward the back post that almost ended the game, only missing side netting by about 6 inches.
As the first period of overtime came to a close both teams were exhausted and the game looked to be a stalemate. But the rest was all history as the Don’s were finally able to close out the game against a Northridge team that is much better than their 0-6-1 record implies.
The Dons recorded their first multi-goal game of the season and improved their record to 2-3-1. They shot 18 times but only 5 of them were on target.