For the second year in a row, USF women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown fields a young squad, having only four seniors on this year’s team.
The Bulls had more than 20 newcomers last season and a majority return with experience under the belt.
Schilte-Brown, who is 11-18-4 in two seasons at USF, spoke with reporters at USF soccer media day last week about how her team is developing, senior goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi and the team’s chances of making the Big East tournament.
Media: What are your expectations this season?
Schilte-Brown: Well, I think it’s important to try and come into every season without any expectations, keeping an open mind. We’ve done a good job so far to do that.
The new addition to our staff, Adam Sayers, has a Ph.D. in exercise science, so he’s brought a lot to the table in terms of temperament in the preseason. It’s been a little different.
The girls seem to be fitting into the new regiment a little easier, so the flow of practice has gone really well.
(The team’s) ability to pick up the concepts have been really quick and the freshman have had a big impact on our sessions as well, so the impact for the future looks good.
M: What kinds of things are different this year?
SB: It’s a philosophy. A lot of coaches kill their players in preseason with fitness, just having that as necessary for entering the season. We’ve changed that component to something that can be done in the summer, and the players came in fit from the summer.
We’ve taken out the component of depleting them every session as we build up toward the season and kept our focus on tactics and information and testing where they are physically to see who will get the job done.
M: You lost (defenders) Jeannette Dyer and Melanie Sutherland. Are you confident you can fill those spots?
SB: Jeannette has been around helping as a mentor, which is good. We have (redshirt freshman) Bahar Sansar, who was out with a torn ACL in the fall, come back all spring, so we do have a jump in that position.
(Sansar) was able to get comfortable this spring, and she’s an exciting player. She’s very commanding in the air, she has great range in her passes and her ability to communicate with her teammates is probably going to range in the best in the nation.
M: The coaches voting in the conferences have you right on the cusp of making the Big East tournament. Is that the first goal for you in determining whether it’s a good season for you?
SB: No. I don’t even know where we finished in that poll. I asked to not know. I think it’s really important to enjoy the journey … I think it all starts and finishes with how we play and how we enter each game. I think a lot of what we did last year was show glimpses of greatness and then the next game it wouldn’t be there.
I think we want to try to focus on today. Let’s focus on what we can get out of practice today and what we can learn, not really worrying about the other teams in our conference, and tomorrow will worry about itself.