The USF men’s soccer team fired off the 2009 season this past Tuesday night with a 4-1 victory over the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos at USF’s Negoesco stadium. The stands of Negoesco were packed with USF fans dressed in their green and gold, in hopes that their high spirits would perpetuate a season opening unlike the last one, where the Dons were left scoreless until their fifth game of the season.
The non-conference season opener was deemed to be a success early on, as USF junior Bryan Burke scored the Dons (1-0-0) a far post goal past the UMKC (0-1-1) goalie just seven minutes into the first quarter. Burke scored his first goal of the season when he received a strategic pass from Jonathan Levi, a senior midfielder, who started all twenty-one matches for the Dons’ 2008 season. Burke has been titled 2007 WCC All-Freshman Team, 2008 WCC Second Team, and 2009 Preseason All-West Coast Conference Team. Head coach Erik Visser claimed, in an interview for usfdons.com, that the victory is much owed to Burke’s goal, because “the early goal gave us confidence and momentum.”
The Dons took their first-goal-created aggression out offensively yet again 27 minutes later. Levi, along with senior forward Conor Chinn, assisted freshman forward Oscar Englund in his first college goal. Englund brought the Dons to a 2-0 lead when he kicked a 20-yard shot into the far right corner of the goal.
The Kangaroos cut the score deficit in half when UMKC junior John Bayron Sosa received a free kick, and strategically tapped the ball to teammate Bryan Perez. Perez scored the opponent’s first and only goal of the game in the 43rd minute of the first half, just before half time.
Chinn brought the Dons back to a 2-goal lead not two minutes into the third quarter. The 2008 West Coast Conference Player of the year fired a diagonal shot from the top corner of the box, with assist from teammate Burke. Chinn’s first goal of the season added another tally to his 28 career goals at USF. Chinn lived up to his athletic reputation, as he defended titles such as his 2006 WCC All-Freshman Team, 2008 Far West Region Team, 2008 WCC Player of the Year, 2009 Hermann Award Watch List, and 2009 Preseason All-American.
Levi, after assisting two of the Dons’ four game goals, made the fourth and final goal of the night just two minutes after the crowd was brought to its’ feet by Chinn’s goal. Burke and senior midfielder Leon Williams made the assist for Levi, who was ranked eighth among West Coast Conference players in shots.
Fans could feel the aggression double in the second half, with a game total of four caution cards to USF and six to UMKC. The Dons have gotten off to a strong start both offensively and defensively, with a totaled 13-6 shot advantage that limited the Kangaroos to just 2 shots in the second half. USF goalie senior Franco Carotenuto experienced his first game win as a Don, saving 1 of the 6 shots the Kangaroos attempted.
In reference to the four goals made by four different players, Visser added, “Last year we were dependent on one player for the bulk of our scoring and this season we have more weapons.” The Dons will go on to play the University of New Mexico Lobos, Thursday in Albuquerque at 6 p.m.