The Bulls (8-4-3, 4-2-3) host the Louisville Cardinals (5-9-1, 4-5) tonight at the USF Soccer Stadium as the men’s soccer team continues to prepare for the Big East Tournament. The game, in addition to being USF’s final home game of the season, will broadcast on a tape delay on Catch 47.
“There are not many other teams in the country to get this opportunity,” goalkeeper Dane Brenner said of the team’s chance to play for a television audience. “Regardless of the tape delay or not, it’s still huge. We’re really happy about it.”
With a win, USF could overtake the Big East’s Red Division if Cincinnati loses or ties its game today against DePaul. USF is one point behind the Bearcats for the division lead and is tied with Rutgers for second. Despite chasing Cincinnati, USF is only focused on its opponent tonight.
“We just have to be worried about Louisville,” coach George Kiefer said. “Louisville could potentially finish where they’re getting a home game (in the Big East Tournament). They’re playing for a lot as well.”
USF has clinched a spot in the Big East Tournament to be held Nov. 3 and 5 at Rutgers. Prior to the championship rounds, the Bulls are trying to at least gain home-field advantage in the first round and potentially a first-week bye.
“(Tonight’s game) is definitely a must-win because we want to get the bye,” Brenner said. “Yeah, it’s definitely a must-win.”
Brenner also mentioned the importance of home-field advantage in the semi-final round of the tournament.
“It’s huge,” Brenner said. “It’s a big advantage. You get your own crowd – your USF students. So the atmosphere – everything – is a big advantage.”
USF will honor its six seniors for their dedicated service to the soccer team before the game. This year’s seniors are Brenner, midfielders Sammy Castellanos and Hunter West, and defenders Blake Sharpe, Kareem Smith and Andre Townsend.
“Before the game, I’ll probably be thinking about it a little bit,” Brenner said. “It’s my last home game, (and) my mom is down here, so she will be able to watch. I’ll probably be a little nervous before the game.”
The Bulls are hoping for a strong, supportive crowd for the last home game of the regular season.
“I’m hoping a lot of people come out,” Brenner said. “For some of our guys, it’s the last regular-season game at home, so I hope a lot of people come out to support us.”
Keep an eye on: midfielder Kevon Neaves. Kiefer moved Neaves to the inside position before the Oct. 7 game against Cincinnati, and since then, the sophomore from Trinidad has played well for the Bulls. Against the Bearcats, Neaves helped shut off the middle attack to prevent Cincinnati from scoring. In the last two games against Stetson and Syracuse, the midfielder tallied two goals and an assist in helping the Bulls. Neaves was named the Big East Player of the Week on Monday.