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Soccer team welcomes new assistant

Despite losing a handful of seniors and a freshman to the MLS, the USF soccer team is keeping not only its roster, but also its staff. Former USF soccer player Ryan Anatol has joined the team’s staff as of Tuesday, announced head coach George Kiefer.

Anatol — a native of Trinidad and Tobago — played for the Bulls for four seasons (1997-00) under coaches David Christiansen and John Hackworth and served as team co-captain in 2000. During his career, the Bulls won two Conference USA championships, in 1997 and 1998, and competed in the NCAA Tournament both seasons. In 1997 the Bulls won 14 games and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.

“I think (getting Anatol) is great,” said Kiefer, who led the team to a 10-5-2 record in his third season as head coach. “I really went out of my way to find someone who has worn the (USF) shirt, because if you pick this place as a school then it shows you have a real passion for it.”

For the past two seasons, Anatol was as an assistant coach at the University of Akron. During his tenure with the Zips, Akron compiled a 28-10-5 record, while winning the Mid-American Conference (MAC) title in 2004 and earning back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths.

Anatol spent the 2001 season as a volunteer assistant coach at USF. A 2002 USF graduate with a degree in mass communications, Anatol worked with the Bulls’ goalkeepers and assisted with recruiting.

“It feels great to be part of the team again,” said Anatol, who spent a year at Lakeland College in Wisconsin as an assistant coach. “I saw it as a great opportunity. I’ve been in the same spot as the players, been in the same shoes and I think I will be able to relate with them. I hope they know that I have the same passion — since I played here — that they do.”

Anatol will be used for recruiting as well and, as Kiefer said, will be a great influence on USF soccer players — foreign or American.

“We have players from Trinidad, and (Anatol) will really help with them,” Kiefer said. “Not only that, it’s typical for players to go to the assistant coach and have a good relationship with them. Ryan is a great guy, and he was very helpful when he didn’t even know me at all. And before I even knew Jeff (Negalha), I was on the phone, just feeling him out.”

Anatol added, “I also think I will be able to help those (Trinidadian) players with their transition to playing over here.”