Connecticut (6-0) at USF (5-0)
When: Tonight, 7:30
Where: USF Soccer Stadium
Attempts to garner support for the men’s and women’s soccer teams has picked up steam with the advent of a new fan club called the Bull Busters.
The club is putting up flyers around campus, attempting to attract new members with incentives to join. Benefits of being a member include a free T-shirt, free food and opportunities to win cash at halftime at each of the six home games remaining this season.
Men’s coach George Kiefer is hoping the addition of the club will help pack the USF soccer
stadium for the upcoming game against the second-ranked University of Connecticut Huskies.
“This is a great opportunity to play the No. 2-ranked team in the country at home,” Kiefer said. “We could use as much support from our student and community base as possible to hopefully come out with a positive result.”
The most supportive soccer crowd in the country may belong to the team visiting USF tonight. The Huskies held the highest attendance average of any school in Division I soccer last year at just over 3,000 fans a game.
That number was aided by a student organization of soccer fans known as the Goal Patrol. Bull Busters hopes to be USF fans’ chance to offer that same kind of support for a Bulls team that averaged just below 1,000 people per game in its nine home matches last season.
Fans who attend Friday’s match will see two of the nation’s top 10 college soccer schools. The Bulls come in ranked No. 10 after their dominating performance over American University last weekend.
The Huskies boast a 6-0-0 record thus far that includes one conference victory over Georgetown. Friday’s match is the Bulls’ first conference match of the year. In the two teams’ short history against each other, the Huskies are 4-0-0 against USF.
The match provides coach Kiefer with a chance at his first victory against the coach who mentored him as a graduate assistant. Kiefer spent seven years under Ray Reid, and the two were successful at finishing the regular season in first place four times, winning a Big East Championship in 1999. Kiefer, however, insists that the match isn’t special because of his ties to Reid.
“One of the first things he taught me is that it’s about the players,” Kiefer said. “I don’t have the UConn game marked as more important than any other match.”
If ever there were a game to mark on the men’s soccer schedule, tonight’s match is it. The Huskies were picked by Big East preseason polls to win the Blue Division, and present the Bulls with their biggest challenge so far. The Huskies have held true to the predictions as they’ve outscored their opponents 13-2 and held the other teams scoreless in five of their six matches.
USF captain Yohance Marshall will have to hold the Bulls’ back line together as well as he has all season to keep a potent Connecticut attack at bay. Marshall was recognized this week by College Soccer News as one of the most hard-working team players in the country.
On the offensive side, the Bulls will see stiff opposition from a Connecticut defense that hasn’t allowed a goal in its last five games. Huskies defender Oscar Castillo was named Big East defensive player of the week after his efforts in the Huskies’ pair of shutout wins last weekend.
Good ball movement and time of possession will be USF’s key to the match. The Bulls will need to create opportunities early in the match to give them something to build the attack around.
If they’re unable to maintain possession consistently, converting counter-attack chances and pushing into Connecticut’s half of the field will be important if the Bulls are to come away with three points.