It’s the middle of August. Hot doesn’t begin to describe what the temperature feels like.
Most people stay out of the heat, retreating to the cool confines of their homes.
But for the USF men’s soccer team, practicing in the heat is mandatory.
Think it has no affect on them?
“Oh no, it’s not hot,” junior Dane Brenner, the Bulls starting goalkeeper, joked. “We’re out there practicing in the heat, but we keep ourselves as cool as possible in this weather.”
Brenner knows how to keep cool, especially under pressure.
Recording a 9-3-2 record last season and posting a 0.85 goals against average with six shutouts is something you can only do if you keep your cool.
Most players just want to improve upon last season’s 10-5-2 record, but Brenner has something greater on his mind then a mere improvement.
A perfect season?
“Yeah,” Brenner said. “Yeah, I expect to go undefeated. I don’t expect us to lose because I looked at our schedule and I don’t see any team that we’re scared of. Last year, we weren’t scared of any team and we’re not going into any games thinking about how we’re going to defend our team. We go in to attack; we go in to win every game. So yeah, we’re going to be undefeated.”
The six-foot, 165-pound North Carolina native has so far compiled a 14-9-4 record with a career GAA of 1.16. Redshirting in 2002, Brenner didn’t see any playing time, serving as a reserve goalkeeper. During the 2003 season, he started all 13 games he played in and grew into one of Conference USA’s top goaltenders, recording two shutouts and leading the conference with an average of 5.23 saves-per-game.
In 2004, he earned second team All-Conference honors and recorded two shutouts in back-to-back conference wins.
“We’ll get back this season what we put into it,” Brenner said.
The Bulls know they will need to have their best players out on the field if they want to compete in the Big East.
Does he expect any last minute changes, like the one right before the 1-0 loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 16, 2004?
“No, we have good personnel,” Brenner said. “We’ve got good players who can come off the bench and play. Coach (George Kiefer) will make the right moves and we’ll respect his decisions and just go from there. We have too many good players and everyone on the field can play and that’s why I don’t think it matters who plays. Whoever is performing the best in practice will play on the field and they’ll go out and give us the best they can give us.”
The goalkeeper is always a leader and that’s just fine with Brenner, because he knows how to lead.
Senior teammate Hunter West believes that Brenner is about to have another breakout season.”Dane is an outstanding player; he’s been here as long as me and Brian [Gil],” West said. “A lot of the younger players look up to him. Dane’s playing some of the best soccer I’ve seen him play since he’s been here.”
Added assistant coach Ryan Anatol, “Dane is a great player from a goalkeeping standpoint. He’s a very athletic player who knows how to make the stops. He’s a junior but he’s very vocal about his leadership role on and off the field. He knows how to get the most out of every player on the field.”
Being a leader comes naturally to Brenner, so it comes as no surprise that he always goes out of his way to help and encourage other players.
“Just set a good example. When it comes to practice, be on time,” Brenner said. “Lead by example, go 110 percent every practice and don’t let anybody see you’re tired. Give everything you have every time; just set a good example that the guys will follow.”