The USF men’s soccer team has given a new meaning to the word celebration.
The Bulls, who host West Virginia in the second round of the Big East tournament on Saturday, have a unique post-victory ritual that can be best described as a “dance circle.”
“In the locker room, everybody listens to a CD that somebody made on the team,” sophomore Rodrigo Hidalgo said. “Everybody dances, and we call out people’s names and they come up to the middle and dance.”
But it doesn’t end there. The players form a circle, and each player performs his own individual routine.
“Everybody’s hopping around, bouncing into each other,” Hidalgo said. “And then, for example, someone will be like, ‘Hey, Rigo, Rigo!’ And then I have to go out in the middle of the circle and break it down.”
But it’s the Bulls who have broken down their opponents this season. USF won the Red Division by six points and finished with the best conference record (9-2) in the Big East, which earned the team a first-round bye in the Big East tournament.
“We’ve played well,” midfielder Simon Schoendorf said. “The best thing is, we’re getting better every game. I’m not concerned about the rest of the conference tournament – I think we’ll do a great job.”
The team has met or exceeded each of their goals this season, and the players seem to be pleased with their progress so far. The Bulls’ main goal is still to make it into the NCAA tournament.
Ryan Anatol played for the Bulls in1997, the last season the Bulls won an NCAA tournament game.
“It was a great experience,” said Anatol, who is now an assistant for coach George Kiefer. “It was a great feeling – it always feels good to make the tournament.”
According to Anatol, the team he played on in 1997 did not have the talent that these Bulls have.
“The difference between that team and this team is this team is a very young team,” Anatol said. “We’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores trying to get into (their first) tournament.”
The 1997 team did have outstanding team chemistry, and that is something Anatol is looking for from this season’s squad.
“They’ve got the potential,” Anatol said. “The talent definitely is here. Our goal is to make it into a very strong team. If we come together, we have the potential to be one of the most successful teams at USF.”
The Bulls have played well together, and the post-game locker room dance-offs can only help a team that, as Schoendorf said, seems to get better every week.
USF has had plenty of reasons to celebrate this season, but the Bulls recognize that their performance this season will be judged by how far they go in the postseason.
“I think that our biggest goal is to come out and play well Saturday and then get to the final four,” Hidalgo said. “Hopefully, once we accomplish all of our goals, we can truly celebrate.”