A long season of practice, struggle and sweat came to an abrupt end Wednesday.
A team of 21 women with hopes of winning a conference championship had to walk off Transamerica Field in Charlotte, knowing that a dream would have to wait until next year.
After 84 minutes of scoreless play, the USF women’s soccer team’s season ended as St. Louis scored two late goals to advance to the second round of the Conference USA Tournament.
“(The team is) more disappointed than anything else,” Coach Logan Fleck said. “They played their butts off.”
For most of the game the Bulls had to withstand several opposition scoring chances but C-USA’s Co-Defensive player of the year, Breck Bankester, kept USF in the game.
“Breck made some huge saves on breakaways and that’s the toughest thing for a keeper to do,” defender Stacci Sastre said. “She definitely played very well.”
The Billikens found a crack in Bankester’s defense in the 84th minute when their forward Jamie Perry assisted to Dee Guempel for the game winner. Perry chased down a pass that was lifted over the Bulls defense and sent it far post to an open Guempel. Bankester went for the pass but Guempel maneuvered around her and headed the ball in from four yards out.
In the last few minutes of the game Bankester played up at midfield, trying to give the Bulls an advantage in players. But Saint Louis took advantage, as Perry was able to score one of her own in the final 10 seconds of the game into the open net.
The fourth seeded Bulls managed to test the Billikens’ goalkeeper with only two shots on goal the entire match.
“I had a couple of shots on goal but we definitely didn’t take advantage of the chances that we had,” Mulvihill said.
Overall Fleck and the players felt they played well but are disappointed that their season is over. The Bulls also wanted to extend their season so that they could continue playing with the team’s only senior Rachel Thjomoe who will graduate in the summer.
“They are somewhat down and dejected because they really started to believe in themselves and they were playing very good soccer,” Fleck said. “I think they felt bad because they wanted Rachel Thjomoe’s season to go longer.”
“We really just couldn’t put one in the back of the net,” Sastre said.