The Bulls bring men’s soccer back to USF for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Thursday with Wisconsin in a match that could serve as a springboard heading into a two-game road stretch followed by the start of conference play Sept. 27.
The Bulls (1-0-2) will also be looking for their third win of the season, while the Badgers (2-0-1) look for their third straight win after coming off a home win against DePaul.
USF suffered a 3-2 loss to the Blue Demons, a former conference opponent, last season.
With the Badgers coming in hot to Tampa, the Bulls’ defense will have to focus on cracking down against a Wisconsin team that has seven goals this season after just three games.
The Badgers have been leaning on their aggressive attack from Week 1 with an average of 17 shots taken — scoring three goals each in their last two matches.
Wisconsin redshirt senior midfielder Tomislav Zadro has been the center of that attack, with a goal and an assist each in the past two games, along with sophomore midfielder Drew Connor, who has been seeing action with an assist against DePaul and a goal against Western Michigan in the prior match.
“Wisconsin is a Big Ten team,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “Big Ten teams are strong college soccer teams.”
USF’s offense has been spreading the wealth with four goals on the season heading into tomorrow night, each scored by a different player. USF junior midfielder Wesley Charpie, who spent his spring being converted to right back, has been playing a key role with an assist on two of those goals.
“My opinion of Wes is that he will be a pro right back by the time we’re done with him,” Kiefer said.
The Bulls have also been playing a bit more conservatively and more accurately on the attack. In Game 1, the Bulls attempted a high 20 shots, with seven on goal, compared to their last match at Michigan in which they took seven shots with five on goal in the tie.
USF may have to capitalize on that style of play against a Badgers defense that has been dialing down on the amount of shots they allow. From 12 shots allowed in their first game, Wisconsin only allowed five in Game 3 against DePaul.
As USF looks to find a groove going into Thursday’s match, Wisconsin seems to be honing in on its strengths, but Kiefer said he’s just fine with where his team is.
“The little details are being worked out,” Kiefer said. “But I’m pleased about where we’re at.”