The season goes into its home stretch this week for the USF men’s soccer team, but even with a winning record of 8-4-2, the fate rests in the Bulls’ hands with their last two home games against conference teams.
Louisville will come to USF at the end of the week, but tonight East Carolina (6-10, 2-5 C-USA) will show up to USF Soccer Stadium at 7 to try to sneak its way into the C-USA Tournament.
The tournament only takes the top six teams in C-USA, but there is only one spot left as USF, Louisville and East Carolina, who are sixth, seventh and eighth in C-USA, respectively, will eye the last seed.
Louisville (5-8-4, 2-4-1 C-USA) will be trying to gain conference ground as it faces UAB tonight, but if the Cardinals lose to the Blazers, it would help USF clinch the sixth spot.
The Bulls will have to face the Pirates without their starting goalie, Dane Brenner, and his six shutouts and 0.74 goals against average. Freshman Freddy Hall will be making his third collegiate start as Brenner will sit a mandatory one-game suspension due to the red card he received Saturday against No. 11 St. John’s.
Brenner came out of the goal box to knock away the ball, which is an automatic ejection for a goalkeeper to intentionally use his hands outside the goal box.
Brenner is not happy with the call, but does regret the choice he made against the Red Storm.
“I don’t blame the ref for giving me a card. I wasn’t trying to intentionally hand (the ball), sometimes that just happens in games,” Brenner said. “I definitely regret (my decision). I could’ve stayed in my box, not come out and we wouldn’t have lost a man. That totally changed the game, but that was my judgment call and I messed up.”
USF coach George Kiefer has been telling his team since Saturday that what happened against the future Big East rival is in the past, and now they have to try to keep their head above C-USA water.
East Carolina is winless against Kiefer in two attempts and has never beaten the Bulls in four tries. Last season, USF beat the Pirates 1-0 at Bunting Field in Greenville, N.C.
“I want the team to know that it’s a game they need to win to put themselves ahead of East Carolina,” Kiefer said. “(East Carolina) still has to play Memphis, so they still have an outside chance after us.
“It should be good to see how our guys play under pressure, but at the same time, we’re more talented than East Carolina. If guys show up and believe in the system and work hard, then I’m confident we’ll play like we did against Fairleigh Dickinson and play like we did in the first half against St. John’s.”