Men’s soccer hosts two this weekend

It’s a bounce-back week for the South Florida men’s soccer team (1-1-1) as it gets ready to face the Florida International Golden Panthers (0-3-1) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the newly renovated USF soccer stadium.

USF comes off an appearance in the Mike Berticelli Tournament in Indiana, where it had a scoreless tie against Indiana and suffered a 5-0 loss to Notre Dame.

“I look forward to being back at home after having faced three top 10 teams in three weeks,” USF coach George Kiefer said.

Kiefer expects FIU to play an offensive game similar to USF’s, which should allow for a night with a lot of scoring opportunities for both sides.

FIU is winless this season with an anemic offense and an inefficient defense. The Golden Panthers have scored just three goals in four matches and allowed 12.

The Bulls have offensive concerns as well, as they have failed to score in their past two games. All three of their goals this season came in the season opener against Bowling Green.

Kiefer said last weekend allowed both him and the players to see the best and worst the team has to offer. That led to an intense week of practice in which the second-team players challenged the first teamers to step up their game in scrimmages as intense as official matches.

“(Sophomore defender Tom Markey, freshman midfielder Sebastian Thuriere and freshman midfielder Santi Alexis) have all been pleasant surprises this week during practice. They have been motivated, worked hard and pushed the first teamers to work hard as well,” Kiefer said. “Markey is a team leader, and this has been a week where team leaders have stepped up after a tough loss. Thuriere is a young player with a bright future at USF, and Santi hasn’t played a single minute yet, but he is working hard to earn his playing time.”

Diego Restrepo, USF’s starting goalkeeper, said the team remains motivated and has already forgotten the loss against Notre Dame, focusing instead on practicing hard this week for Saturday.

There were no injuries reported during the week and USF’s starting lineup is not expected to change.