George Kiefer has already laid the foundation.
The USF men’s soccer team coach has the blueprints drawn and the framework all planned out. Kiefer is using this off-season to focus on building a championship-caliber soccer team as well as something else: his home.
Kiefer just finished his fourth season as USF’s head coach, and with the construction of a new home, he looks to be settling in for the long haul.
“I’m in the process of building my own home,” Kiefer said. “I’ve taken in all of the model homes in the Tampa Bay area. I’ve got my ideas, and I’m building my house as we speak.”
Kiefer has a good reason to stay: His Bulls were first in the Big East’s Red Division and finished the season 13-6-2 – the best for USF since 2001, in which it finished 15-7. The Bulls also finished one penalty kick short of making it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
But Kiefer wasn’t completely sold.
“I told them to be happy with the year but don’t be in love with it; it’s a good year, but it’s not a great year,” Kiefer said. “We have a lot of guys coming back, but we can’t take for granted what we did this year.”
The Bulls bring back 23 of the 24 players on their roster and 10 of 11 starters. With senior defender Brian Gil as the only departing first-teamer, Kiefer certainly has the tools to build one of the top teams in the country.Instrumental to the Bulls’ future is forward Jordan Seabrook. The freshman bore the load of the Bulls’ offense and led the team in goals (14) and accumulated 36 points on the season – the most for a Bull since Greg Krauss’ 32 in 2000.
Another building block is sophomore Rodrigo Hidalgo, a midfielder, who finished the season with 15 assists, four short of the all-time single season mark of 19 set by Aris Bogdaneris in 1984. Hidalgo, who was considering a transfer before the season started, is excited about the work Kiefer has done.
“I’m definitely hyped about the team. The experience we gained this season is priceless,” Hidalgo said. “I think that after showing up this season with the numbers we came up – I think that people will expect us to be good.”
Hidalgo said that after the heartbreaking 7-6 shootout loss to Virginia, Kiefer had some words for the team.
“He told us, ‘Just keep your heads up; just because we lost that game, it doesn’t mean it’s the end,'” Hidalgo said. “He’s our leader, always pushing us to do better.”
Kiefer is looking for the Bulls to improve in all aspects. But this off-season, Kiefer will concentrate his efforts mostly on conditioning, recruiting and weatherproofing.
“We have a bunch of players from the Caribbean and from Florida,” Kiefer said. “I’d like to get a couple of more guys used to (cold) weather.”
Kiefer added that the Bulls’ record in cold weather this season – 1-3-2 in weather under 60 degrees – is “definitely a factor” this recruiting season.
“We have some good leads in Sweden and Norway. I would like to bring in a more hard-working blue-collar class; I don’t know if it will be a top-20 kind of class,” Kiefer said. “I’m turning every rock right now.”
Kiefer will have to leave no stone unturned to continue the team’s success. He’ll need to have everything nailed down, have all of the plans mapped out and will have to pay attention to every last detail – possibly even the drapes and the carpet.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Kiefer said. “I handle concrete and plumbing – the wife is very good with the carpet and things like that.”