Soccer teams debut with Rowdies' Cup
USF's men's and women's soccer teams make the season debut Saturday night with exhibitions against the University of Tampa in the Rowdies' Cup at USF's soccer stadium. The women play at 5, with the men following at 7:30, and tickets for each game are $5 for adults, $3 for children 16 and under.
Both teams have rosters that are still in flux, with key new additions still awaiting word on their eligibility. Men's coach George Kiefer has a young team picked by league coaches to finish third in the Big East's Red Division but talented enough to have garnered first-place votes in a wide-open division.
Kiefer returns leading scorer Jordan Seabrook but will have to replace two underclassmen who turned pro last season, Rodrigo Hidalgo and Anthony Wallace. Five other returning starters include three from Trinidad -- Kevon Neaves, Yohance Marshall and Jason Devenish. He'll also have a freshman in goal in Diego Restrepo, who redshirted last season.
USF is waiting to hear from the NCAA on whether transfer Zak Boggs, UCF's top scorer last season, will be granted a waiver to allow him to play immediately rather than sitting out a season as second-time transfers typically must do. Boggs played his freshman year at West Virginia.
On the women's side, first-year coach Denise Schilte-Brown takes over for longtime coach Logan Fleck, with more than half her roster likely to come from newcomers. Brown is waiting for NCAA word on a group of European players -- as many as eight could be joining the Bulls. The team took a tough loss before practice even started as senior defender Jeannette Dyer was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
"I was relying on her heavily to be everything," Schilte-Brown said. "I still believe she'll have a great impact on team chemistry, but now we're saying 'What returner or freshman is going to step in and be our main communicator as center back. That's crucial."
Junior Melanie Sutherland is an experienced returner who was playing the other center back, and she could step into a more vocal role on the team. Another possibility is freshman Camilla Aseng of Norway, who played center back for the U-23 national team in Norway. Schilte-Brown's teams at Virginia Commonwealth had a European flavor to their roster and she plans to do the same at USF, including another player from Norway, Julie Donnestad.
"Norwegians are wicked smart," said Schilte-Brown, who could have more recruits from Norway, Sweden and Germany. "Multiple languages, they always get good grades. You don't have to deal with a language barrier, and you don't have to worry about their academics. They always do well."
The leading scoring threat for the Bulls looks to be junior Lindsay Brauer, who had nine goals and four assists last season to earn third-team All-Big East honors. Schilte-Brown said she expects plenty of assists from senior midfielder Autumn Browning: "There's not a better final passer probably in all of Division I right now. If Lindsay's successful, it's going to rely on Autumn's ability to get that done."
The women's team will hold an open tryout at 7 a.m. on Sept. 5. Interested full-time students must pick up a tryout packet from Schilte-Brown in USF's athletic facility and return it before Aug. 31 to participate in the tryout.
(photos courtesy USF sports information; yes, I'm in both)