Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colleges: Some questions answered for Bulls

South Florida men’s soccer coach George Kiefer was looking to have questions answered when the No.11 Bulls faced No.3 Akron in an exhibition last Friday.

While the Zips won the game 3-1, Kiefer thinks he got some of his questions answered.

“I think it was helpful in moving some guys forward, and some guys need a little more work,” Kiefer said.

One player that did stand out for Kiefer was freshman center back Ashani Fairclough. The Jamaican under-20 international didn’t start against Akron, but had a strong performance off the bench, teaming with fellow freshman Carlos Anor in the center of defense in the second half.

“He showed me he could play against the top team in the country,” Kiefer said of Fairclough’s performance against Akron. “He’s been a captain for every team he’s played for, got good character. He’s young, he turned 17 on August 7, so he’s young. He’s taking information well, but physically, athletically, he’s as good as a senior.”

Bulls’ goalkeeper Jeff Attinella has also been impressed with Fairclough’s performance.

“He’s really young, but you wouldn’t be able to tell,” Attinella said. “He’s a good leader back there, and I know it’s usually tough for a freshman to come in and be vocal and try to get on the guys to do the right things, but that’s what we need from a center back, especially a big center back like him. We need someone to come in and fill the void that Yohance (Marshall) left, there’s been a really good competition at center back and he’s done well with that.”

CAMP CONTESTS: Kiefer is pleased with how his players have competed at camp so far, with the Bulls putting in rigorous workouts as they prepare to defend their Big East title.

One of the changes this season is the practice schedule. Instead of working out twice a day, as in the past, Kiefer has been putting his side through its paces just once a day, and is pleased with the results.

“They’re working really hard,” Kiefer said. “In the past we’d come out again tonight, but we’re focusing on just one session a day, and getting our work in, and I think we’re getting more out of them by doing that.”

Sophomore Sebastian Thuriere said he thought the preparation was going well, and that he thought the team was very positive and could improve on last season’s performance.

“We have a bunch of guys who are willing to step up the level of their game,” Thuriere said. “I think we’ll have a good season, possibly a better season than last year. We have a bunch of good players”

STETSON TEST: South Florida completes its preseason schedule when it hosts Stetson on Thursday night. With the Bulls facing a pair of in-state squads to open the regular season in Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast, Kiefer had a purpose for scheduling the Hatters.

“We scheduled Stetson because we have a number of Florida teams coming up,” Kiefer said. “What we find with Florida teams is they’re all very good at moving the ball. We feel like it’ll be a good test for us to give a similar style to what we face when we open up.”

Kiefer said the side that starts against the Hatters is the one he believes is the Bulls best 11 right now, but with strong competition for places in the starting line-up and on the bench, changes could come.

“I think you’ll see us go with what our starting 11 is right now, and that could change in a week or two weeks, but on Thursday night, that’ll be the group we want to start,” Kiefer said. “They’re all feeding each other the right way, and if you can come on and work your tail off for 30 minutes, you know you’ve got a guy that can come on and take care of the next 15. We’re not asking them to save anything, and with the rules of college soccer, you can make moves moreso than in the international game, and I think we need to take advantage of that. “

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