Men’s soccer team prepares for in-state rival Stetson

A men?s soccer match at Stetson is the only fixture on the USF sports calendar for today. In the wake of the World Trade Center tragedy yesterday, USF coach John Hackworth said the match is still likely to be played as scheduled at 4 p.m. in Deland.

USF (4-0) is currently ranked 15th in the nation by Soccer America and fifth in the South Region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

The team, along with all other USF teams, did not hold practice Tuesday. Instead, Hackworth assembled his players at his house and had a brief meeting where they discussed the day?s events and prepared for the Stetson match.

?My family (and) my soccer family (were) there,? Hackworth said. ?I think it was important for us to be together.?

Freshman forward Rustin Kluge is from the Long Island area in New York, but Hackworth said Kluge?s family is safe.

The Bulls won the Duke/Adidas Classic tournament this past weekend by knocking off N.C. State 2-1 and upsetting the host Blue Devils 2-1.

Forward Jason Cudjoe, scorer of two goals in the tournament, was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week.

Stetson (2-2) is coming off a loss in its most recent match, a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Centenary in the Puma Invitational.

Three Hatters were named to the All-Tournament Team: midfielders Justin Niemann and Andy Welch, and forward Ian Zarac, brother of Mercer star Neil Zarac who scored against the Bulls in a 3-1 USF victory last year.

?We?re approaching it like it?s the most important game of the year for us. That?s the same mentality we?ve gone into every game with,? Hackworth said. ?And I think that?s the right thing to do. Stetson is a program that ? for them to beat us, that makes their year. That?s probably one of their main goals.

?It?s going to be a very hard game, no doubt about that at all.?

Hackworth added that the national ranking attained by the Bulls should not make his squad overconfident.

?I want my team to be very confident that they can beat anybody, but humble enough to know that they can lose to anybody at the same time,? he said.

?The ranking means nothing besides the fact that somebody out there is taking notice. That?s nice. That?s a good reward. I want my players to enjoy that, but at the same time, the big picture at the end of the year, being ranked on Sept. 11 doesn?t mean anything.?

Khari Williams covers men’s soccer and can be reached at