Youth meets experience

Young athletes learn from big games, so imagine how much the USF men’s soccer will learn this weekend when it takes on Furman and Clemson who are ranked No.14 and No.16 respectively by College Soccer News.

Head coach George Kiefer’s squad of 24 contains nine freshmen that have never met the likes of such programs as Clemson and Furman. Clemson holds six Final Four appearances as well as two national championships, while Furman claims 16 Southern Conference Championships, winning 12 of them in the past 13 seasons.

“We are going to go after them and try to get this game,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “We are excited — they are going to teach us a lot this weekend.”

Going into the weekend tournament with such a young team, Kiefer is worried more about the development of his players as opposed to “stealing a win” by hanging back defensively without much offensive pressure.

“The biggest thing I want to get across, is to just do what we normally do,” Kiefer said.

Though the lineup will stay similar to the first two games, Kiefer will be starting junior Chris Raye, who has come back from injury to be a veteran presence on the field. Joining him will be sophomore Hunter West who, although young, is emerging as a team leader.

“On and off the field, he is a leader all around,” Kiefer said. “You know he is going to show up, so that helps.”

West, who has defied prediction on his return from injury, starting earlier than doctors predicted and scoring a hat trick in the first game of the season, is still being examined and his amount of playing is determined with each game and each minute.

“We have open communication,” Kiefer said. “He will tell me the truth so all I have to do is talk to him on the field and if he says he’s OK, he will play.”

As for the goalkeeper, the permanent starting position has not been determined, but Peter Lechak will be starting this weekend. Kiefer said Lechak is the one that is getting an opportunity to prove himself right now, but that other goalkeepers on the team will be not be overlooked.