USF (6-1) at Pittsburgh (1-6-1)When: Tonight, 4 Where: Founder’s FieldTV/Radio: None
Men’s soccer plays its first conference road game of the season this weekend when the Bulls face Big East Blue Division opponents Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
Pittsburgh comes into today’s match at the bottom of its division with 1-6-1 and 0-2 in the Big East. They’ve been outscored 18-8 in eight matches.
For the Bulls, 1-1 in conference play, this weekend is crucial as they try to keep pace with Cincinnati (2-0) and St. Johns (2-0) for best conference record in the Red Division.
“All we can do is focus on playing well,” coach George Kiefer said. “If the points come out of it, then they do, but that can’t be our main concern.”
USF has been successful on the road this year, having won all three contests they’ve played away from home this season. Kiefer’s career record on the road is 23-17-3.
The second match of the weekend has the Bulls headed to Morgantown, W.Va., where they’ll face the team that eliminated them from the Big East tournament last season. Kiefer is confident the team won’t be sidetracked by wanting to avenge last year’s loss.
“I honestly don’t think it’ll be on the players’ minds,” Kiefer said. “When the Pittsburgh match is over, I think all the guys will be more concerned with watching the football team play West Virginia than our match against them on Sunday.”
The Mountaineers present a significantly more difficult challenge for the Bulls on the road. They’ve started their season with a 5-2 record and are 1-1 in the conference. Along the way they’ve outscored their opponents 6-2.
West Virginia doesn’t bring a high scoring offense to the table, but their defense is tough enough to make up for it. They’ve held a shutout in each of the team’s five victories despite their opponents hanging with them in a number of shots.
The Bulls will be able to create opportunities, but the key to a USF victory will be whether or not they can turn any of them into goals.
“We could make a real big mistake if we go on this trip thinking too much about West Virginia,” Kiefer said. “We got two games, and right now all we’re thinking about is Pittsburgh.”