USF (9-5-4, 4-3-4) at No. 4 West Virginia (14-1-2, 9-0-1)When: Sat., 7 p.m.Where: Dick Dlesk Stadium
The story: The USF men’s soccer team is taking a hike to West Virginia on Saturday to face the No. 4 Mountaineers in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Dlesk Stadium. The Bulls (9-5-4) advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Seton Hall in the first round of the tournament Wednesday.
USF beat West Virginia 4-1 in last year’s quarterfinals.
For the season, West Virginia (14-1-2) had just one tie against Big East opponents with zero losses. That tie came at the hands of the Bulls, who played the Mountaineers to a 2-2 tie on Sept. 15 at home.
“We’ve played them before,” midfielder and Eckerd transfer Anthony D’Oyley said. “We kind of know their style. The coaches will prepare us very well.”
West Virginia was the winner of the Big East Blue Division with 28 points. It was the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed in the tournament.
“Now we’ve got to play the top team in the Big East – (one of the) top teams in the country,” coach George Kiefer said. “So, I don’t know how the guys will respond being underdogs going into West Virginia.”
USF is trying to answer its success from last year’s postseason. But, for some of this year’s Bulls, the postseason conference tournament is a whole new experience.
“At Eckerd, we never traveled like this,” D’Oyley said. “So, it’ll be one of my first opportunities playing in a really big game.”
Veteran Rodrigo Hidalgo, who learned from last year’s cold climate at Connecticut, said the team will be ready to combat whatever elements they find in the Appalachians and play through it well.
“It’s going to be great – it’s going to be warm,” Hidalgo said sarcastically. “We know it’s going to be difficult, but if you look at our away games this season, for some reason we’ve done better.”
USF has a record of 4-2-3 at home and a record 5-3-1 on the road.
The winner of Saturday’s match will advance to the Big East semifinals on Nov. 3 against the winner of Rutgers/Notre Dame.