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Men’s soccer awaits opponent

The brackets are set and the seeds are in — the Big East tournament is underway. All the Bulls have to do is sit back, relax and tune in tonight to see who their second-round opponent will be.

No matter which team they play, kickoff is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at the USF soccer stadium.

The Bulls were awarded a first-round bye for clinching the No. 2 seed in the Red Division and will take on the winner of a first-round matchup between Cincinnati and Georgetown. The Bulls (11-4-2, 7-3-1) beat the Hoyas early in the season and were defeated by the Bearcats just over a week ago.

“Each team has their strengths, each team has their weaknesses,” coach George Kiefer said. “All we can focus on is how we play and how we can improve from the last time out. I’m a little anxious to see which team we’ll be facing so we can start preparing. But in reality, it’s all about us, not who we’re playing.”

The Bulls are coming off a 1-0 win against Rutgers in the regular season finale Saturday. Kiefer said the time off is much needed and shouldn’t affect the team’s play Sunday.

“I gave them Monday and Tuesday off,” he said. “They needed a break after the schedule they faced at the end of the season. Yesterday was their first day back and I saw great energy. We’re a very hard-working team. We’ll be ready.”

Working heavily in the Bulls’ favor, the Big East tournament will be played at the USF soccer stadium, where the Bulls have lost just once in the past two seasons. This year, they went 6-0-1 at home.

“It’s huge,” forward Jordan Seabrook said, “for a team like us to have our fans behind us, to have the good weather, to have that mental factor — knowing it’s been a long time since we lost at home. We play really well at home. We play well on the road, but we like to put on a good show for our fans. To be here is huge.”

No matter how the Bulls fare in the Big East tournament, their performance in the regular season has all but guaranteed them a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament.