USF’s 4-0 defeat last week at Connecticut sent a wake up call to coach George Kiefer’s squad.
USF (4-2-1), which had won four straight matches before Friday, looks to get back in the win column against Rhode Island (2-5-0) tonight at 7:30 at the USF Soccer Stadium.
“We had a tough practice when we got home from Connecticut, actually when we got right off the flight, and we’re learning that we need to start winning the fight,” said senior goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. “Even though it’s a tough loss, a game that was really important to us and a game that we really wanted to win, I think we’ll take more from that loss than we will from any win that we’re going to have this season.
“I think we just took breaks, and in a game like that and any game that you play in college soccer, when you take breaks, good teams are going to make you pay.”
The Bulls had an intense practice Tuesday morning, Kiefer said, in preparation for tonight’s game, which is the first meeting between the schools.
The Rams have been shut out in four of their five losses while getting outshot 118-80 and outscored 16-6.
Homefield advantage for the Bulls will also be key to getting them back into the victory column. Rhode Island has lost all four of its away games so far this season, while the Bulls have only lost once at home in their last 33 games.
“We know now not to take anything for granted. Just win the fight; that’s what we’re going to stress for the rest of the year,” Attinella said. “The year that we won the Big East, we lost to Notre Dame 5-0 early in the season, and it’s still early. We have a bunch of confident guys. I know we have talent. It’s just a matter of putting the work in and winning the fight.”
The Bulls, currently ranked No. 25 in the country by College Soccer News, started the season ranked No. 13, but lost their first game and tied their second.
Kiefer said the team’s most recent loss was humbling but served as a good measuring stick for the rest of the season.
“I think we (have to) stay tuned in for 90 minutes,” he said. “A part of college soccer is how you manage yourself when the ball is out of bounds, on restarts, on kicks and your shape, and really it’s about the fight, it’s about the battle and wanting it more.”
“The word humble is a good word. It’s one of our team values. That’s any game. The passion you bring to the game will pay off, and they’re going through some lessons right now that will help them down the road. I said it before the Connecticut game that after that game, we’ll know some things that we can get better at. That’s what’s great about playing a team like (UConn). I think you’re going to see a very good team (tonight) in South Florida.”