Confident Bulls ready for top opponent

If they had their choice, USF players would play one of the nation’s elite every week.

The Bulls look to capture their third straight victory against an undefeated opponent Friday night when they travel to No. 6 Connecticut.

“When you go up against a team that you know is undefeated, it gives you a little more drive, a little more momentum to go forward and give them their first loss,” said senior midfielder Shawn Chin.

After capitalizing on a weekend that consisted of handing both Ohio State – which was previously ranked ninth – and Drexel their first loss of the season, USF is back in the nation’s top 25 college soccer rankings.

The Bulls (4-1-1) have revived themselves after a slow start to the season, winning their last four games by outscoring opponents 7-2.

“Really, it’s just about today, no one’s really guaranteed tomorrow,” said coach George Kiefer. “I think we’ve had examples of when we play things right and when we play things wrong. I think they’ve been clear examples, which is a great teaching tool, because when we do things right, we can be pretty dangerous.”

Connecticut has outscored opponents 19-2 so far this season.

“Today in practice we basically worked on defensive shape, just trying to get our midfielder to force (the ball) out, so we’re not doing dumb running off the ball,” Chin said. “It’s basically what we’ve been going over the whole year. It’s the new formation we’re still working into, but it’s getting better defensively.”

The game will feature two of the nation’s top goalkeepers: USF’s Jeff Attinella, who has 22 career shutouts, will face counterpart Josh Ford, who has 42 career shutouts.

“We train against some of the top goalies every day with Jeff (Attinella), Brad (Sienkiewicz), Eric (Osswald) and Alex Spock, so we’ll be ready,” Chin said.

Kiefer said he could sense the team’s confidence during this week’s practice.

“We’re trying to be smart,” he said. “We just need to keep painting that picture when it’s good because it’s difficult to play through us when it’s good.”

The game will be nationally televised live on ESPNU. The Bulls have beaten Connecticut four straight times.