Tonight, USF will welcome the UCF Knights to Corbett Soccer Stadium for a 7:30 kickoff as the Bulls look to break out of a draw-laden season and continue dominance against the Knights.
UCF (5-4-4, 2-1-2), led by sophomore Romario Williams and seventh-year coach Bryan Cunningham, will step on the Corbett Stadium grass at third place in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), carrying a five-match losing streak against the Bulls and 14 losses in the last 15 matches between the two universities.
Though USF (4-2-7, 1-1-3) has been historically successful against the Knights, the Bulls are coming off their third consecutive draw, for a total of seven this season, and sit in sixth place in the conference.
Despite the lack of wins, the Bulls haven’t lost since Oct. 5, having a four-game unbeaten streak. USF is also tied with AAC first and second-place squads, No. 8 Louisville and UConn in the loss column. All three schools have just two losses this season, which makes USF one of 17 schools in Division I with two losses or less.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, who have four wins total and one in conference play, the school record of seven draws is holding the team back in the AAC standings. With four wins, the Bulls are tied for second to last of the nine AAC teams.
Coach George Kiefer has continued to speak positively of the team’s effort and execution in recent weeks amid the abnormal amount of draws. The veteran coach said if the Bulls continue to bring the same effort, the USF wins will start to tally up.
Time is of the essence though, as USF has just four matches remaining before the AAC tournament — three of which are conference matches. After three home matches against UCF, SMU and non-conference Detroit Mercy, USF will head to Louisville for the regular season finale.
USF is sitting at 82nd in the NCAA RPI rankings, and will need to come out with wins instead of draws down the stretch if they hope to find a place in the 48-team NCAA tournament starting Nov. 21. UCF is in a similar boat, sitting at 75th place.
Though the win column doesn’t show it, USF is one of the better scoring teams in the conference, currently ranking third in the AAC in goals (17) and scoring average (1.308).
USF has outscored opponents 9-3 in the second half this year, but will need to start fast in remaining matches if they hope to get on the winning track.
Also ranking third in the conference is senior goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad with a .808 save percentage, who has only allowed three goals in the past four
Muhammad and the Bulls will need to slow down Williams, who leads the AAC with seven goals and is tied for first in points (16), in hopes of getting a win before Saturday’s home match with SMU at 7:30 p.m.