It has been eight years since the men’s soccer team won the West Coast Conference title, and this fall, they did it again. This was an exciting season for the Dons, with the team working excruciatingly hard all season to achieve this victory.
Following the big win against Loyola Marymount, the Dons set out to play against Cal on Nov. 16 in Berkeley for the first round of the NCAA tournament. Despite this being an away game, Dons fans made their way across the bay to show their support. The Dons came out strong during the first half, making eight shots on goal, but they were kept in check by Drake Callender, Cal’s goalkeeper. Less than a minute into the second half, Cal scored the first goal. The Dons barely grieved before senior forward Bryce Kaminksi came in tight with a goal inside the box to tie it up. Later in the second half, senior forward Leon Schwarzer assisted junior forward Sean Bowman in scoring the game-winning goal off the pass. That last goal marked Bowman’s fifth winning goal of the season.
Just three days later on Nov. 19, the Dons took off to Louisville, Ky. to face the Cardinals in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“It was a dog-fight between two very evenly matched teams, both sides came out to play and was a tough fought battle till the end,” commented sophomore defender Matt Orr.
The Cardinals scored the opening goal in the second half, but the Dons were quick to follow with a goal netted by Bowman off a neat pass by Schwarzer shortly after. Both teams fought tooth and nail before the Cardinals scored another goal, giving them a single point lead. Not long after, Kaminski tied it up with a header from a cross shot by senior defender Manny Padilla. Unfortunately, the Cardinals ended the game with a late deflected goal and the Dons were not able to score in time. This resulted in the end of the 2017 season for the Dons.
“At the end of the day, it was a fantastic season and we accomplished big things with winning the WCC for the first time since 2008 and leaving our mark in USF history,” said Orr.
The Dons will lose seven seniors moving into the 2018 season, but the team has a lot of promising young talent. Matt Orr, Bar Twito and Ruben Stuiver, from Hong Kong, Israel and the Netherlands respectively, were mentioned by coach Eddie Soto as, “great pieces,” moving forward. Stuiver made 62 saves this season, with an average of 0.653 percent of shots blocked. The Dons have had an exciting season, and hopefully will continue to strengthen USF’s soccer program.