TAMPA – Bernardo Anor’s goal in the first minute of overtime kept No.8 South Florida perfect on the season as the Bulls defeated Valparaiso 1-0 at the USF Soccer Stadium on Tuesday night.
Anor, making his second appearance of the season after missing the bulk of 2008 with a torn ACL, elevated 10 yards out to head home Javed Mohammed’s free kick from the right flank to give the Bulls victory. Valparaiso goalkeeper Ryan Schwartz got a hand to the header, but wasn’t able to turn it over the crossbar.
“I was very anxious to start playing again,” Anor said. “It’s been almost a year, and I’ve been working very hard to get to this point, and I want to thank my trainer and teammates and coaches for supporting me all this time, giving me hope to keep going and pushing forward.”
The goal came as a relief for the Bulls (3-0-0), who had controlled possession for a good part of the game but were unable to break down a tough Crusaders defense. Zak Boggs went close in the eighth minute when he had a header saved by Schwartz, and also saw a shot flash wide of the left post after he made a run across the top of the Crusaders’ defense, turned the corner 15 yards out and fired.
Sebastian Thuriere also went close to breaking the deadlock, his volley from the top of the penalty area after Valparaiso had only half-cleared a cross by Mohammed also went just the wrong side of the left upright. The Bulls also created chances in the second half, but the longer the game went on, the more anxious they appeared in front of net, leading to missed opportunities.
“I felt like we created a number of chances, even moreso in the first half early on,” South Florida coach George Kiefer said. “I started to think that the goal got a little small on us tonight, but I think the job for the team is to create the chances, you’ll win more games than you lose for sure.”
The Crusaders (1-2-0) also had opportunities, most notably a curling shot by Adrian Ortiz in the 19th minute that Bulls goalkeeper Jeff Attinella did well to turn around the post for a corner.
Valparaiso forced 10 corners, and was dangerous on the counter-attack, but only forced Attinella into three saves as the Bulls defense did well to snuff out opportunities before they turned into true goal-scoring threats.
Valparaiso coach Mike Avery said he was pleased with his team’s effort after a 2-1 loss against Michigan on Sunday, and thought despite the loss it was a game the Crusaders could build off.
“I think we’re disappointed with the result, but I’m really proud of the way we played tonight,” Avery said. “That’s a pretty good team over there, they’re the No.8 team in the country, and they haven’t lost in 21 games now (at home), and you can see why.”
The night, though, belonged to Anor, who after making an appearance in Saturday’s victory at Florida Gulf Coast got to play in front of his home fans for the first time since the Bulls’ game against Florida International on the 13th of September last year. Anor was praised for his work off the bench by Kiefer.
“Bernardo is a talent,” Kiefer said. “I thought he was one of our more dangerous guys tonight when he came on. We don’t want to rush things, but it’s good to have him, very good to have him.”