Even with five straight victories and a chance to tie the team record of five straight shutouts tonight against Stetson, the USF soccer team’s continued success hasn’t shown in the national rankings.
Tuesday the Bulls (5-0) were ranked 17th in the NSCAA Coach’s Poll, tied with Notre Dame, while SMU, who the Bulls beat 3-0 on Friday, was still ranked above them at 15.
In Soccer America’s rankings, USF only moved the team up two spots to No. 16.
“You got to give credit to that team (SMU); they have a good program,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “I don’t think we can blame other people for what we are ranked.”
The Bulls will face the Hatters tonight at 7:00 at the USF Soccer Stadium. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 4, but postponed due to Hurricane Frances.
While beating Stetson won’t do much to improve USF’s ranking, freshman Rodrigo Hidalgo isn’t letting the ranking bother him.
“I’m really happy with everything,” Hidalgo said. “We’re a family, and we don’t let things get to us, because even in the locker room, we are family. Christian (Jimenez) is like my brother. We do a lot together, and that affects how we play, because we’ll play better together.”
Junior captain Hunter West agrees with Hidalgo, adding there is a sense of brotherhood on the field and that no single individual should be put above the rest of the team.
West was the C-USA co-Offensive Player of the Week, but remembered that his teammates helped him greatly in receiving the award.
“It’s really nice to get recognition,” West said. “I’m just happy that our team is being competitive and keeping up with these other teams. That’s what we do everyday, though, in practice: try to improve on what we need to improve on.”
Kiefer says that even though his team has gained a national ranking, his focus is still on upcoming games by keeping the strong ethic of working closely together.
“We have players from all over the world, literally,” he said. “And we make it real important and genuine that these guys have to look out for each other on and off the field.”
USF has an overall record of 19-4 against the Hatters, while Kiefer is undefeated against Stetson, having won his only meeting against the Hatters.