Perhaps it’s a sign from last season not to bother with it. That it should not worry any of the soccer players.
After seven games, the USF men’s soccer team (3-3-1) is unranked. Two of those three wins are against ranked teams. Friday, the Bulls beat No. 16 Seton Hall; two days later they defeated No. 21 Georgetown.
Since then, the Pirates have dropped to No. 18 on the NCSAA/adidas poll, while the Hoyas have fallen completely off all polls.
Yet, the Bulls remain unranked.
Four weeks into the season and they’re not so much as a blip on any poll’s radar screen. This coming from a team that is essentially the same as the 2004 team that was ranked as high as No. 10 midway through last season.
USF, however, flunked out in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.So maybe that’s why the team is happy to be flying under the radar.
“I’m not too concerned about the rankings right now,” said forward Rodrigo Hidalgo, who leads the team with six assists. “If you look at our season last year, by our sixth game we were getting ranked in like the top five, and yet we didn’t even make through the semis of the conference tournament.”
Hidalgo said he’s “enjoying the role of the underdog rather than being one of the top dogs.”
“I’d rather make it to the NCAA tournament than be ranked and get upset,” the sophomore added. “I’m not concerned about the rankings at all at this time of the season.”
Coach George Kiefer attributes the unnoticed play to something else; something that goes beyond votes and polls, especially after starting off the 2004 season 9-0-2 only to drop three conference games in a row; something that resulted in a complete meltdown of their season.
“We’re still a .500 team,” said Kiefer, who in his fourth year at USF has a 31-23-6 career record and only one losing season. “There’s still a lot of work to do.
“I wouldn’t call it a meltdown, but certainly I don’t mind not being ranked right now. We want to be ranked in December. The fact is, we are a .500 team right now, and we’ve lost to some pretty good teams.”
The Bulls have lost to SMU, FIU – a team receiving votes in some media polls – and No. 3 New Mexico, which at the time of the 3-2 loss was ranked No. 6.
Though USF is not ranked, they’ll still take the wins over teams that are.
“It was a great feeling winning this weekend,” Kiefer said. “(A) great feeling starting off the Big East 2-0, and it was real easy for the team we have here to quit, to stop. So it says a lot about the team that they were able to pull (the upset over Seton Hall) off (and) then show up Sunday and take care of Georgetown.”
“It felt good beating (Georgetown and Seton Hall),” Hidalgo said, “because it’s a huge confidence booster for our team. It allows us to believe in ourselves even more than we do already, and we earned those rights.”