This week, I’m in Florida covering just one solitary match. I suggest that every one of my readers (yes, both of you) complain to the NCAA having 8 matches that all play on the same day is impossible to cover more than one.
I considered covering Indiana at North Carolina at 1 p.m. and Akron at Charlotte at 7 p.m., however, I’m going to be in Orange Beach, Alabama covering the NAIA tournament. It starts on Monday at 12pm. If I covered the two matches in North Carolina, I would have arrived two hours prior to the first of four matches without having any sleep. I guess I’ve become a slacker.
This article contains my previous week’s travel to Tampa, Florida. This article includes the following schools: New Mexico and South Florida.
Next week is the NAIA tournament
(12 games in 3 days) in Alabama and quarterfinal match in North Carolina.
Just a reminder, this year, I’m concentrating on just a few players at each game.
Tampa, Florida – On a beautiful evening with a calm breeze and the temperature in the 70’s, South Florida advanced over New Mexico in penalty kicks in front of record breaking crowd of 3,592.
While both teams can take solace that they had chances, neither team can be content with their over-all play. It was a game that wasn’t well played and I suspect may have been the turkey of the day for the round of 16 in the NCAA.
The penalty kick attempts:
- South Florida PK Made: Lucas Baldin, Aubrey Perry, Ashani Fairclough, Les Paul, Kevin Olali, Santi Alexis
- New Mexico PK Made: Lance Rozeboom, Michael Green, Devon Sandoval, Kyle Venter, Mathew Gibbons
- South Florida PK Missed: Dom Dwyer
- New Mexico PK Missed: Blake Smith, Carson Baldinger
Both starting line-ups were identical to when I saw each of them in September (New Mexico played Syracuse at Akron – smallest crowd of the season and South Florida played at Dartmouth).
New Mexico: 4-2-3-1
F: Devon Sandoval
M: Blake Smith, Lance Rozeboom, James Rogers
DM: Michael Green, Michael Kafari
D: Mathew Gibbons, Kyle Venter, Travis Campbell, Levi Rossi
GK: Victor Rodriguez
South Florida: 4-1-4-1
F: Dom Dwyer
M: Kevin Olali, Sebastien Thuriere, Leston Paul, Wesley Charpie
DM: Kyle Nicholls
D: Ben Sweat, Brenton Griffiths, Ashani Fairclough, Aubrey Perry
GK: Chris Blais
New Mexico Observations:
New Mexico showed up in the second half and they were vastly superior to South Florida in overtime.
Senior Lance Rozeboom was dreadful in the first half. His touch was unpolished and this accounted for many turn-over and attacks that stalled when he touched the ball. Rozeboom was much better in the second half, generating far more attacking sequences. He’s tall, but doesn’t win enough balls in the air given his height.
In the 16th minute near the side line, Rozeboom touched the ball back into the middle of the field yards from him and he was dispossessed. If he more adroitly touched the ball down the line it would have set himself up much more successfully for his second touch.
In the 105th minute, Rozeboom set up freshman James Rogers who slipped the ball wide from 10 yards.
Rogers has unbelievable quickness. He caused problems late in the game on the right side.
Junior Devon Sandoval had an unremarkable performance until a 99th minute turn and shot from the middle of the box that was slightly off-target. He didn’t seem interested in playing in the first half. I wasn’t too surprised to see him start on the bench in the second half. Sandoval has a sturdy body without separation speed or moves to beat defenders. If he doesn’t play strong, he can be manhandled by slighter players.
Senior Michael Green is subtle player. He sits back and reads the game. In the 2nd half, he so thoroughly read a pass at midfield that he had to slow down to not over-run the ball. He provides a nice corner kick. In the 4th minute, he serviced a nice 30 yard square at midfield that sliced past 3 South Florida players onto the foot of his overlapping left back. Very nice.
Green is quick with a slightly less than averaged size. I’m not sure that he has enough to play professionally. Perhaps, if finds the right situation and gets a few breaks, otherwise, I don’t think he just has enough.
In the 33rd minute, freshman Mathew Gibbons curled in a cross that kept hooking, pulling out South Florida senior goalkeeper Chris Blaise. Humorously, Blaise looked like a little kid pretending to be Superman with his one arm up like he was going to fly. The play ended with South Florida kicking the ball up the field.
The center back combination of sophomore Kyle Venter and junior Travis Campbell allowed junior Dom Dwyer too much freedom in their box. New Mexico was lucky to still be in the game at half-time.
South Florida Observations:
While South Florida can be happy that they advanced in penalty kicks, they’ll need to be much efficient in scoring if they hope to have a chance against Creighton. I’ll say it now, I expect Creighton to end the game within 60 minutes with a 2 goal or more lead.
The only thing that South Florida has over Creighton is the South Florida weather. While South Florida has a nice new stadium, Creighton’s is better. While forward Dom Dwyer is pretty good, Ethan Finlay is better. While I’ve never been a big Elmar Bolowich fan, he successfully has brought North Carolina to the final 4 for the past 3 years. Coach George Kiefer hasn’t matched this record, though I think he has the potential.
Junior Dom Dwyer has a knack for finding gaps that he explodes into with well-timed runs. Dwyer impressed me, but I think he suffered a knock on his leg in the second half that slowed him down as the game progressed. While not very tall, he uses his body to create space to receive lofted balls over much taller players. Dwyer is the most talented South Florida player. He still has to continue to develop if he hopes to be a relied-upon goal scorer in the pros, but I think that he has the tools.
In the 25th minute, Dwyer got plunked on his head from a driven free kick from midfield by Kyle Venter. Nothing nasty about the play, but I worry that Dwyer might have suffered a concussion.
When I last saw South Florida against Dartmouth, the center backs juniors Ashani Fairclough and Brenton Griffiths were horrible, allowing balls to bounce in their box. They didn’t communicate and they were erratic. Against New Mexico, they set the tone early that they were going to aggressively attack any ball in their area. Also, they were going to hit anyone with the audacity to try and dribble into their box. They were much better. This tone was important. However, they lack confidence on the ball, kicking the ball up the field when a better back would play the ball to feet. If these two get better on the ball next year and pass the ball when not under direct and immediate pressure, this will help South Florida and their professional prospects. A good team will pin them back in their own half until they score with these tactics.
Freshman Wesley Charpie is shifty with the ball. He’s worth watching for the next couple of years to see if he continues to develop.
Senior goalkeeper Chris Blais had a dreadful pass that went directly to James Rogers that should have led to a goal, but the shot was blocked.
Sophomore Ben Sweat is a tall, left back that can get forward into the attack and serves dangerous crosses. He hit Dwyer on the head several times. At the end of the game, his tank was empty and his play suffered. He needs to get stronger and continue to increase his endurance. He could become a serviceable player.
The most exciting play of the game occurred in the 88th minute with a goal needed to salvage this enduring match. Sophomore Les Paul threaded a pass to junior Morten Benestad who crossed the ball to the far post where Dwyer tried a spectacular flying scissor shot – but like this game – he missed. This led to overtime and eventually to penalties.