When USF men’s soccer makes its debut in Conference USA this weekend it will try to do something it hasn’t been able to do in three years: beat Charlotte.
But it might not be easy after Charlotte (1-2) defeated East Carolina (1-1-1) 1-0 in the 49ers’ home opener and first conference game.
USF is scheduled to play Charlotte at the USF AmeriSuites Tournament on Friday and faces a team built around four sophomores and five freshmen.
During the game, Charlotte played four sophomores and five freshmen. The 49ers have 10 freshmen on a roster of 25, similar to USF which has nine freshmen on its roster.
“(The advantage Charlotte will have) depends on how good the freshmen are,” said USF coach George Kiefer. “Some of them are good, but I don’t think the year that they are will play that much of a factor.”
Charlotte, who has defeated USF the past three years, has six seniors, five of which saw playing time Sunday. Among those seniors is 49ers goalkeeper Lucas Mackanos, who posted his 12th career shutout on Sunday’s game.
“He’s a good goalkeeper, he gets hot at times and he’s very hard to beat,” Kiefer said. “I remember him making some good saves on us last year.”
USF lost senior goalkeeper Troy Perkins during the summer, and has only four seniors, one of whom has not yet played and two others who have seen limited minutes in the Bulls’ first three games. Despite the lack of seniors, Kiefer said he is confident that he has quality leadership on the field.
“Jared Vock has provided us with great leadership and Brandon Streicher has done more than I would have expected in a leadership aspect,” Kiefer said.
Sophomore goalkeeper Peter Lechak, a transfer from Connecticut, has played all three games so far, but committed a rookie-like mistake when he let in a weak kick from 30 yards out against Jacksonville. However, he rebounded from the mistake and helped the Bulls split last week’s tournament against nationally ranked teams.
“What we saw at the Furman Tournament is an indication of what his talent is, and consistency is the most important thing for a goalie,” Kiefer said.
During conference play, USF will face nine C-USA opponents, five of which will be on the road. This weekend’s tournament, which will also feature Providence, is the second of three tournaments the Bulls will play this season. The third will be next weekend, when USF travels to Milwaukee to face their second conference opponent Marquette.