After the USF men’s soccer team (7-1-2, 3-1-1 C-USA) played its first nine games without a loss, Bulls coach George Kiefer decided to pull his starting goalkeeper in favor of a freshman Saturday versus Cincinnati.
Freddy Hall started the first game of his career in a 1-0 loss to the Bearcats in place of sophomore Dane Brenner, who has won two Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week awards this season.
For the first nine games of the season, Brenner started for the Bulls at goalkeeper. He posted a 0.73 goals against average, had 33 total saves and recorded five shutouts.
Kiefer doesn’t regret his decision, nor does his team. Despite the conference loss to Cincinnati, Kiefer is still backing his freshman goalkeeper as playing well enough to be the starter.
“If I had to put a keeper in for a bigger game, I would have to go with experience,” Kiefer said. “Dane and Freddy have played the game at a very high level, and (Freddy)’s a very good goalie and I think he deserves some time.”
Brenner can relate to Hall’s situation. Five games into the 2003 season, Brenner replaced Peter Lechak. Brenner went on to start the last 13 games of the season, posting a 1.47 GAA, racking up 68 saves, and notching two shutouts.
Kiefer also added that Hall, who faced 19 shots versus the Bearcats, was disappointed after the loss because the goalie had a good game against Cincinnati despite no offensive back up.
“Against Cincinnati, the kid came up with two very, very good saves,” Kiefer said. “I felt bad for Freddy after the game, in that the kid played well enough to deserve a win, but the team kind of let him down a little bit.”
With the loss, the nine-game unbeaten streak is over and their No. 7 national ranking will be affected. All of that doesn’t matter to Kiefer or the team right now.
“I’ve been telling the team all year that they’re not going to go undefeated,” Kiefer said. “If they do that’s great, but its not something we set out to do.”
The Bulls face UAB Wednesday, and Kiefer is sticking with Hall.
“We’re coming into the stretch here, and we need to make sure we have all our bases covered,” he said. “Freddy will start against UAB, and if you ask anyone in the (men’s soccer) program, they’ll tell you the kid is a good goalkeeper.”