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Bulls to play two top 10 teams

The No.14 USF men’s soccer team (1-0-0), which climbed up four spots in the NCAA rankings after Friday’s 3-0 victory at home over Bowling Green, faces an early challenge as it heads to Indiana to face two top 10 opponents this weekend.

The Bulls play No. 6 Indiana at 5 p.m., Friday and take on No. 8 Notre Dame in the seventh annual Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament Sunday at 2 p.m.

“It’s an honor to even be invited to the tournament,” senior defender Yohance Marshall said. “We get to play the top two teams in the tournament. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The tournament, which will also include the Dartmouth Big Green, has been hosted by Notre Dame for the past seven years and consists of two matches in three days. The fact that there are only two matches means that the Bulls won’t get to face Dartmouth, but this doesn’t faze USF coach George Kiefer.

“It’s always good to play good teams early because you can find out things (about your team) that you wouldn’t find out otherwise,” he said.

Kiefer has preached to his players the importance of focusing on the day-to-day things to be better prepared for the matches ahead of them.

“After we played Bowling Green last Friday, we didn’t focus on Indiana right away,” he said. “I know Indiana was definitely not thinking about us. We are focusing on (today’s) practice first, what we need to work on and improve, and then after that we will focus on Indiana.”

The Indiana Hoosiers are the defending tournament champions. The Hoosiers edged out the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the championship after Notre Dame tied its last match against Northern Illinois and finished with a 1-0-1 record. Indiana finished 2-0.

Indiana had three midfielders and one forward named to the 2007 All-Tournament team and will look to defend its title in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish return as a top 10 team but without last year’s offensive MVP of the tournament Kurt Martin, who graduated May 2007, and 2007 All-Tournament defenders Cory Rellas and Matt Besler.

“Indiana is known to be a very good defensive team that will put you under pressure, but that’s good for us because we have the technique to get out of that pressure and take advantage of the spaces that pressure creates,” Kiefer said.

The teams USF will play are good, Marshall said, but the Bulls will be focusing their attention on their own team.

“We aren’t worried about anybody but ourselves right now,” he said. “We are just trying to focus on ourselves and learn more about ourselves. I think if we can do that, we will be a really good team.”

USF will approach both games with a 4-5-1 tactic: four defenders led by Marshall, two defensive midfielders — Francisco Aristigueta and Kevon Neaves — and three offensive midfielders, who will create offense for forward Zach Boggs: Bernardo Anor, Jason Devenish and Jordan Seabrook.