With a reshaped roster, a new coach, and a new year ahead of them, USF kicked off the preseason on a positive note, outplaying host UC Berkeley last Wednesday on its way to a 2-1 win in regulation. Although the match was only a scrimmage, it was a major win and confidence booster for the Dons.
The match was head coach Eddie Soto’s first game at the helm of the USF soccer program. Prior to being hired at USF, Soto was an assistant coach at UCLA, which he helped lead to a No. 1 ranking in the country last year. He had no trouble acclimating to life as a head coach in his inaugural game with the Dons, coaching them to a victory against the seventh-ranked team in the nation.
USF scored early in the preseason matchup, registering a goal in only the ninth minute of regulation. Freshman defender Manny Padilla passed the ball to cutting sophomore midfielder Davi Ramos, who headed the ball towards the UC Berkeley goal. The shot was deflected by the Golden Bears’ goalkeeper, but senior midfielder Jesus Del Toro was able to reach the deflected ball and place it in the back of net, vaulting the Dons ahead 1-0. 16 minutes later, UC Berkeley answered with a goal of its own to tie the game 1-1.
The match remained tied until the 72nd minute, when sophomore forward David Garrett found Ramos, who was presented with another scoring opportunity. This time, Ramos shot the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, ensuring that there would be no deflection.
The Dons led 2-1 at the end of regulation, but the teams’ coaching staffs elected to continue the game for another 20 minutes in an effort to give the reserve players some extra time on the field. In this additional period, UC Berkeley was able to tie the score at 2-2.
Even though the first game of the Eddie Soto era was only a scrimmage, USF’s performance against an elite team has set the bar high for the rest of the season. The Dons will look to improve upon last year’s 7-11-2 overall record, and the next step towards that goal comes when they travel to Madison, Wisc. to play the No. 21-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Friday, Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m.