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Hatters go mad for Bulls

Don’t tell Stetson that its game with USF today is just another regular season contest. The Bulls will travel to DeLand to play the Hatters at 4 this afternoon and expect a high-intensity affair.

“For whatever reason, they’re high as a kite when they play us,” USF coach Logan Fleck said. “They want a rivalry with us. But our wars are with UAB, Cincinnati and Charlotte.”

The fact that the Hatters (1-1) are coached by Fleck’s former assistant Julie Orlowski, who spent the 2000 season with the Bulls, only adds to the intrastate matchup. Prior to her stint with the Bulls, Orlowski started programs at St. Thomas, North Florida and Boise State.

The target of Fleck’s preparation this week was to get his team to take the Hatters’ enthusiasm in stride.

“The best thing I could tell them was to warn them about it (Wednesday),” Fleck said. “We talked about urgency and not just showing up. The structure of our training will hopefully come to fruition on the field. But you have to realize that just because you tell them, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to do it right away.”

That’s certainly the case for the Bulls (0-1), who started one freshman and played three more in their 2-1 loss to UCF on Monday. Another, midfielder Jessica Zabel, will make her debut after missing the season opener with a high ankle sprain. Fleck said she would see limited action after her first full practice on Wednesday.

“She has speed and the ability to get behind the defense,” Fleck said. “We needed more of that against UCF. You can pass the ball around, but you also have to make them contend with dribbling the ball behind the defense.”

Erin Dafeldecker, a freshman midfielder who was one of the three Bulls to make their first start Monday, had an instant impact by assisting on the only goal, a header by Rachel Ross. Defender Beckie Ware also saw action, and midfielders Nataly Arcila and Ashley Quaid played significant minutes in the midfield.

“Erin made six runs and didn’t get the ball before making that cross to Rachel on the seventh try,” Fleck said. “She kept believing. And Quaid was all over the midfield.”

A freshman will play a crucial role for Stetson as well. April Eilering shut out New Hampshire 1-0 in the Hatters’ last outing when Stetson split two games at the Vermont Soccer Classic. This time she’ll attempt to stop USF. The Bulls blanked the Hatters 4-0 last year behind a pair of goals from Ross in the second match of her career.

“Julie used to be our goalkeeper coach, so if she’s playing a freshman it’s because she’s good enough to play,” Fleck said. “She’s not going to be scared with two games behind her and playing at home.”