South Florida coach George Kiefer said he believes that the Bulls have begun to find their identity on and off the field this season.
The Bulls (2-1-1) will travel to Washington D.C. to open Big East play this weekend against the Georgetown Hoyas and the Seton Hall Pirates.
“The team is really molding together nicely as far as how they are getting along and how they are playing together,” Kiefer said. “I really feel like things are starting to come together for (the players). Our practices sometimes are quicker and tougher than the matches themselves, and some of our young guys are starting to get minutes.”
With nine of 11 returning starters, the Bulls have shown that the familiarity they have with each other has paid off so far this season.
“The team has learned how to deal with adversity and not having things handed to them,” Kiefer said. “When (Florida International) tied the game (in the 81st minute) last Saturday, there was no panic, no fear, and we took the lead back two minutes later.”
USF midfielder Jordan Seabrook thinks the chemistry of the team is a driving factor behind its success.
“It is always good to play with the same group of people every day, especially because the chemistry within the team builds up,” Seabrook said. “Here at USF, though, we have so many talented players that the team isn’t affected when a player goes out and someone comes in. The team stays intact.”
The two new starters have also fit into the team’s system. Freshman Aubrey Perry took over as the Bulls’ right defender, and senior striker Zach Boggs has one goal in four matches.
The starters this weekend have already faced the Hoyas and the Pirates together last year, so they know what to expect out of them.
“Georgetown and Seton Hall are going to pose two different sets of challenges for us,” Seabrook said. “Georgetown is more conservative and has let us keep possession of the ball in the past couple of times we faced them, but I expect that to be different this year. Seton Hall is going to go punch for punch against us since they are a team that likes to attack a lot.”
Kiefer said that for USF, it is about playing hard and not taking anything for granted as they try to improve from last year’s appearance in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.