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Fresh legs kick into high gear

How can the second-best soccer team in Conference-USA have a freshman as its leading scorer? It may be difficult to grasp, but No. 7 USF men’s soccer team’s scoring leader is freshman Simon Schoendorf.

USF coach George Kiefer is happy with Schoendorf’s play throughout USF’s nine-game unbeaten streak, feeling his coaching staff did its job in recruiting the freshman to come to Tampa.

“If he was born and raised in the United States, I’m sure he would have been on the National Team like Christian (Jimenez) and Rigo (Hidalgo),” Kiefer said. “And I sent my assistant coach (Jeff) Negalha to watch (Schoendorf), and he called me like within a half an hour, and said to me, ‘It’s a no-brainer.'”

Schoendorf will get the chance to add to his scoring total on Saturday, as USF (7-0-2, 3-0-1 C-USA) plays at C-USA rival Cincinnati (3-7-2, 2-2-1 C-USA) at Gettler Stadium at 7 p.m. While the Bulls lead the series 5-4-2 all time, including at 1-1 double-overtime game in 2003, Kiefer and his players aren’t taking the Bearcats lightly.

“Look at the teams (Cincinnati) lost to,” Kiefer said. “They just beat Charlotte 3-0. We only beat Charlotte 1-0, in overtime. So it’s going to be a real tough game. Four of their losses were to top 10 teams, so that can be a little tricky. They could easily be 7-3-2.”

In high school, Schoendorf, who hails from Karlsruhe, Germany, played in the junior system of the Karlsruher Sport Club, which won the Badische Meister, a title cup that is equivalent to winning a state championship in the States.

“I didn’t know what to expect (playing in the U.S.),” Schoendorf said. “I didn’t know anything about this team. I wasn’t sure how it would be in comparison to Germany. So I was told by the coaches to just try my best.

“I must admit that I played in the highest level of youth soccer back in Germany, and the level over here in the States is just as high as in Europe. It’s just as tough, and we’re playing good teams with a good confidence and a good team.”

Kiefer has been very impressed with his freshman midfielder, who leads all Bull scorers with 12 points on three goals and six assists, not only because of his skills, but his talent and aptitude to be an all-around soccer player.

“Simon has done very well for himself,” Kiefer said. “I love his scoring ability, but I also love the fact that he is getting all the assists, too. He’s just a well-balanced player.

“I wanted to be slow and be patient the more I thought about him, but he’s a serious, serious player. There are a lot of things to his game; he can score goals, and create goals for other players. He’s everything you could want in an attacker.”