Stetson (3-8-2) at USF (6-4-3)When: Tonight, 8Where: USF Soccer StadiumTV: Fox Soccer Channel
The men’s soccer program reaches a milestone tonight.
The Bulls will play in front of a live, national television audience for the first time ever at the USF Soccer Stadium. The Bulls (6-4-3) host Stetson (3-8-2) on the Fox Soccer Channel, which is channel 120 on Bright House cable, and it’s billed as the NSCAA College Match of the Week.
“We want to represent our school well,” said forward scorer Jordan Seabrook, who leads the team with four goals. “We want people, especially people who haven’t seen us play before, to know the quality of players we have and the type of soccer that we play.”
The Bulls are hoping for a large supporting effort from the USF community surpassing the single-game attendance record of 2,063 set on Oct. 30, 1990, against the University of Tampa.
“I really hope the students on campus, the Greek Life and Student Government groups and the athletes on campus can stand behind the program (tonight),” coach George Kiefer said. “I think that will help a lot. I think if they come out once and see the atmosphere that is presented, they may come back.”
Kiefer said men’s soccer is becoming more popular and encourages all fans to come out to the game for support.
“Our fan base is growing each year,” Kiefer said. “That’s a step in the right direction. And you talk about the new facility – where you put 1,500 (fans) in the new facility – it’s going to be a tough place to play.”
The Bulls first appeared on national television last year but it was at the Big East semifinals in Connecticut. No television broadcasts have ever taken place at home. The team is proud to have the opportunity to host a soccer event on the national stage.
“We’ve worked quite a few years to get recognized,” forward Kris Raad said. “I feel that everyone is going to be playing with a lot of pride tomorrow and for the rest of the season to get as far as we can. We came up a little short in the tournament last year. I definitely think there’s going to be a lot of fight going into this game, especially since it’s on TV.”
Seabrook explained that a larger crowd actually affects how the players perform on the field.
“It’s huge to have a big crowd,” Seabrook said. “I mean, when you don’t really feel like making that big run or that long run back, having fans out there helps you dig deep and get that. The more people we have (in the stands), the more pride we have wearing the (jersey) – the more we want to do it for (the fans).”
Despite the national audience, the team says it feels no pressure coming into the game.
“We haven’t really been on TV, so I don’t think we’re necessarily thinking about (pressure) that much,” Raad said. “We just want to come out, get a win at home, and for the people who come out to support (us), we’d like to show them a good game. We just want to play the team, and I think if we do that, we shouldn’t have to worry about anything.”
“The whistle blows, and we’ll see what the night presents us,” Kiefer said. “But I don’t think there’s any added pressure.”