A hurricane that made landfall more than 700 miles away didn’t seem likely to affect Tampa, but it’s having a significant impact on the South Florida women’s soccer team. The Bulls were scheduled to take part in the Tiger Classic Tournament hosted by Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge this weekend.
“No way, I don’t ever want to see a hurricane,” said Rehana Murani, a freshman midfielder and native of Alberta, Canada.
Neither Murani nor the rest of the team will see a hurricane, at least not this weekend. In the wake of Hurricane Gustav, the trip to Louisiana has been canceled. The Bulls were expected to face Dartmouth on Friday and Kent State on Sunday. With more than 825,000 people left without power in Louisiana and Mississippi, planning a trip and a soccer tournament wasn’t practical.
While the trip has been canceled, South Florida was able to keep one game on the schedule.
“Kent State has committed to come here and play,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said.
The Golden Flashes will travel to Tampa, instead of Louisiana, to face the Bulls Friday night at 7:30.
Another piece of the puzzle, however, needed to be solved — where to play the game.
With the recent $2.7-million renovation to the USF Soccer Stadium, the facility is not yet ready to be used. The Bulls will instead face Kent State at Pepin Stadium, on the campus of the University of Tampa.
Schilte-Brown is trying to keep the team focused despite these adjustments.
“We’re trying to just prepare for Kent State now,” she said. “Obviously, if you let all these distractions come into play, then you won’t be as focused as you should be. Our staff will step up and be prepared. Our girls seem fine. They are just taking it one day at a time.”
USF will need that focus for Kent State. The Golden Flashes are 2-1-0 and coming off a win over Illinois-State Edwardsville.
The Bulls split the series this past weekend with University of Alabama-Birmingham and Vanderbilt, moving their record to 1-1-1.
Friday’s match-up will have historic significance. It will be the first time South Florida and Kent State meet in women’s soccer.