TAMPA, AUG. 22, 2015 – The USF men’s soccer team rallied from an early deficit to defeat cross-town rival Tampa, 2-1, and win the Rowdies Cup on Saturday night at Corbett Stadium in front of a crowd of 1,403.
Sophomore defender Gabriel Pfeffer scored the game-winning goal in the 36th minute off a perfectly orchestrated set piece from the Bulls. Lindo Mfeka sent a free kick from outside the box towards the back post for Brandon Riley, who slid a pass across the goalmouth to a wide open Pfeffer to tap home for a 2-1 lead.
“This game is important for the town for sure and I know Tampa is a very good side, they’ve got a lot of talent,” head coach George Kiefer said.
USF had to fight back after Tampa scored in just the second minute of the game on a great strike from Keith Francisco from just inside the box.
It didn’t take long for the Bulls to answer back, however, asNazeem Bartman slotted home the equalizer 16 seconds later. Mfeka, who finished with two assists on the night, used some fancy footwork to weave through a couple defenders before sending a perfect cross towards Bartman, who buried his chance from the middle of the box.
The Bulls looked dangerous going forward all game long and had a golden chance to pad their lead early in the second half after earning a penalty kick in the 51st minute, but Mfeka was denied by Spartans’ goalkeeper Christian Knight.
“I saw some attacking movements and the way we got forward was really, really good. Now it’s just shoring up the back of the team,” Kiefer said.
Tampa created a couple of great chances of their own and nearly tied the game twice as Monty Berrow hit the post and the crossbar in the second half. The Spartans registered 10 of their 13 shots in the final 45 minutes but were outshot overall, 21-13.
With the win, USF avenged its 1-0 loss to Tampa last season and improved to 18-9-3 all-time in the series.
The Bulls kick off the regular season next week on Friday, Aug. 28 when they host Missouri State at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets HERE.