Men’s soccer to host Hofstra in first round of NCAA Tournament

Junior midfielder Ajmeer Spengler led the team in shots with two against FIU on Sunday in the conference final. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF men’s soccer was picked to host Hofstra in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. This is the first time the team has reached the tournament since 2019.

The winner of Thursday’s match will move to the second round on Sunday to take on No. 1 seed Kentucky.

The Bulls (8-6-4, 5-1-3 AAC) are coming off a 2-0 loss to FIU in the AAC Championship final on Sunday. Hofstra (14-3-3, 5-2-2 CAA) beat Elon 2-1 in its Colonial Athletic Association Championship final on Saturday.

The last time men’s soccer made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, the Bulls got knocked out in the first round after losing 4-1 to Louisville.

Coach Bob Butehorn is glad the team gets to play at home, especially after a tough season playing other conference opponents who made it to the tournament, such as Memphis, SMU, FIU, Tulsa and North Carolina.

“We’re at home. I think we earned that,” he said. “So let’s go to work.’

“We know Hofstra is a tough opponent and now we figure out and research how to play against them. But the way we finished definitely gives me confidence. I hope it does the same for the boys. We’ve been a good team throughout but we were just too inconsistent in the beginning. Now that we’re playing with consistency, it makes all the difference. That has given us confidence and belief in our abilities.”

USF and Hofstra will play Thursday in Corbett Stadium at 7 p.m.