TAMPA – If there’s one thing No.6 South Florida men’s coach George Kiefer would like to see improvement in from his team, it is the Bulls’ decision-making.
Kiefer said that in the Bulls’ opening loss of the season to West Virginia on Friday night, he thought his side played into the Mountaineers’ hands by giving possession away in areas where they could counter-attack quickly, using their pace to create scoring opportunities at the South Florida end of the field.
“I think we fed them a lot with how we played,” Kiefer said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think we allowed them to get stronger as the game went on by how we were playing everything in front of them, with our giveaways. They are a very good team in transition, I think if we played that game again, we would take that transition away by how we attack and the decisions we make.”
The Bulls fared far better in their game against Pittsburgh, a 2-1 victory on Sunday. Played on a heavily wet field, so much so that the field was shifted to avoid large areas of water build-up, Kiefer thought his side played a far more intelligent game against the Panthers. Still, the Bulls were still working on putting pressure on opposing defenses, and being more clinical in their finishing in practice.
“I think if we keep growing and we learn from that, really that could be a big thing for us,” Kiefer said. “To really go into a game knowing what another team is looking for, and being intelligent with how we’re attacking.
“We have so much emphasis on keeping the ball and possessing it that at times it can hurt us. I think if we can grow with how we play certain teams, because I know we’re going to see a lot of (defensive) numbers and teams that are just looking to counter and transition on us and get numbers behind the ball, I think the majority of our games are going to be that way, how do we handle that?”
AWESOME ATTINELLA: Bulls goalkeeper Jeff Attinella continued his standout season with a great performance against West Virginia that allowed the game to reach overtime.
“Jeff is coming up big, and I think that helps us,” Kiefer said. “(It) deflates a team where they have a big chance and he robs them of a goal.”
While many goalkeepers can be overly demonstrative, a cliched image of a goalkeeper is one of someone continually unhappy and shouting at his defenders, Kiefer believes Attinella’s calm demeanour allows his defenders, and the rest of the team, to play their game.
“Jeff had a good way of handling himself,” Kiefer said. “He keeps calm, he’s rewarding of defenders when they do good work, he’s not one of these goalkeepers that’s always looking at what the guys aren’t doing, because then they start tuning you out. I think he brings very good leadership and we always feel good about any game because we have Jeff back there.”