The men’s soccer team went into the last two games of the season with a good chance of winning the West Coast Conference Championship. The Dons needed to win both games in order to have a chance at winning the title and finishing their season on a six game winning streak.
USF’s first game was against University of the Pacific, where they blanked the Tigers. The Green and Gold also held UoP to only five shots, none of which were on target. The Dons didn’t force anything in the opening minutes and waited for the opportune moment to strike. This came in the 26th minute while senior Leon Schwarzer controlled a cross from defender Matt Orr, and proceeded to rip a shot into the back of the net to give the Dons the early lead.
Minutes after starting the second half, the Dons doubled their lead from a free kick from Aaron Lombardi that was headed home by Orr, for his second goal of the season. The Tigers ramped up the pressure while being down two, and opened another chance for the USF to secure the game. In the 77th minute, Tawwab Emiola slotted home his third goal of the season from another nicely placed free kick from Lombardi.
This win moved the Dons into first place in the West Coast Conference, with a 4-1 record in conference. All the Green and Gold had to do to clinch the Conference Title was win their game on Saturday against Loyola Marymount.
The game also happened to be Senior Night for the men’s side. Seven members of the side graduate after this season, including Lombardi, Schwarzer and Bryce Kaminski.
However, this securing game did not start how the Dons hoped. The Lions took the lead in the 11th minute, when Antonio Porreco chipped a rushing Ruben Stuiver. With ten minutes to go until halftime, USF was still struggling to even up the game and give themselves a chance to win the WCC. Lombardi floated a ball into the box which found an unmarked Sean Bowman, who slotted his eighth goal of the season.
The Dons came out of the break hoping to grab a second goal which would clinch the title. USF was given a free kick in the Lion’s half in the 55th minute. Lombardi lofted the ball into the box where Bowman connected and netted his second of the game, this goal gave the USF Dons the West Coast Conference Championship.
In conference play, a win gives a team three points, while a draw gives them only one. In the West Coast Conference, the most points one team can finish with is 21 overall. The Dons finished their season with a six-game win streak and gaining 18 points.The Green and Gold not only secured the West Coast Conference Championship this season, but a consecutive 13 Championships.
The Dons jumped for joy and ecstatically celebrated their championship. Many of the international players brought their countries’ flags onto the pitch after the final whistle blew.
USF had to wait through the rest of the weekend to know what team would stand in the Dons’ way. On Monday, the Green and Gold learned that they would face off against University of California on Thursday, Nov. 16 in hopes of being the best men’s soccer team in the nation.
Featured Photo: USF Dons Celebrate their 13th Consecutive West Coast Conference Championship Donsathletics/Flickr