Men’s soccer looks to build walk-on program

Since coach George Kiefer took over the USF soccer program seven years ago, it has grown so much that the staff has had to change how it accepts potential walk-ons onto the team.

Ballooning interest in the program — coupled with a limited amount of available roster space  — has caused the team to host a tryout Wednesday at the USF Soccer Training Ground.

“Everyone wants to be a part of it,” said assistant coach Fred Dikranian.  “You should see the e-mails we’ve been getting. With what coach Kiefer and coach Anatol have done with the program and where it’s at now, it’s really attracting alot of people.”

Because of heightened interest, the team is no longer admitting walk-on players in the summer. The roster is usually full with incoming recruits and returning players by the time summer begins. The spring tryouts help give  players the opportunity to showcase their talent while room is still available on the roster. It also gives incoming players extra time to adjust.

“At this time of the year, we haven’t really done much, so it’s good timing,” Dikranian said. “It’s also an opportunity for the student body to try and be a part of something we think is special here.  If a guy is good enough and wants to be a part of it, we’ll be happy to bring him in.”

Dikranian said the tryout helps keep the process of admitting players into the program organized. Participants must be full-time students, fill out paperwork and pass a physical examination given by the training staff.

The coaches and current players will evaluate who they want to join the Bulls’ roster after the tryout. USF lost six seniors from last year’s championship team, leaving some spots up for grabs.

In November, the Bulls won their first Big East Championship in school history and finished with a 15-5-3 record.

“USF is one of the largest campuses around,” Kiefer said. “There are a lot of players on campus that want an opportunity.”

USF has held tryouts in each of coach Kiefer’s six years with the program.