WHO: Michigan at No. 5 USF
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Corbett Soccer Stadium
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Radio: BullsCast on GoUSFBulls.com
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Bring on the big schools and bring it early.
That's head coach George Kiefer's philosophy as he readies his No. 5 USF men's soccer team for a season that couldn't get here any faster for fans after what the Bulls accomplished last year - a Big East Red Division title and a trip to the Elite Eight.
"I think it's great to start with a very tough opponent because you want to get answers. You want to sort out things that you don't want to be learning in Big East play," Kiefer said.
USF certainly got its wish for the season opener that takes place 7 p.m. Friday at Corbett Soccer Stadium. The opponent is Michigan and just the name has been powerful enough to keep the Bulls motivated all through the preseason.
"It's a team that is two years removed from being in a Final Four. It's one of the richest histories as far as athletic programs are concerned in all sports. The Michigan jersey will certainly wake the guys up Friday night," Kiefer said.
USF definitely has confidence on its side with eight starters and 18 letter winners back from last season's team that went 6-1-1 against ranked opponents.
"The players we have like to be in that environment. They like to play top teams," Kiefer said.
Getting the Michigan game on USF's own turf also could play a big factor in beating a top team right off the bat. More than 18,000 walked through the gates at Corbett Soccer Stadium last year and saw USF go 8-2-2 in a venue that allows fans to get very close to the action.
"Michigan might get good crowds, but their goalkeeper doesn't have 500 students on top of him," Kiefer said. "That's going to stress him out a little bit and that will make them a little bit more uncomfortable in the environment."