Bittersweet is probably the best way to describe the past few days for USF women’s soccer when it was officially announced that goalkeeper Christiane Endler would leave the Bulls to go pro and play with Chelsea FC.
While saying goodbye to the sophomore after two seasons was bittersweet in itself for coach Denise Schilte-Brown, another USF player just passed a milestone under the national spotlight.
Endler, 22, signed her contract and plans to finish out her semester at USF before leaving to Fulham, London in May where she will play in England’s highest division of women’s soccer.
“We have a good relationship with Emma (Hayes), the coach from Chelsea,” Schilte-Brown said. “We’re excited for her to have that opportunity and felt that was the right place for her to go. You don’t want to lose your goalkeeper, but we’re excited for her.”
While Endler will leave Tampa, a returning Bull is making waves in England as well.
Nearly 60 miles south of Fulham is Amex Stadium, where England’s senior women’s national team plays – and where junior Demi Stokes netted her first goal for the team.
England has yet to concede a goal in its four qualifying wins so far and in Saturday’s 9-0 win over Montenegro, Stokes scored the seventh goal of the match in her home debut.
Stokes, also 22, left for the team’s camp in early January and Schilte-Brown said she’s more than earned the respect of her team back in the states.
“This is the third time she’s been called in and she’s starting to really establish herself in her position at left back,” she said. “Anytime you can score from outside back it’s quite the accomplishment. She’s earned everything she’s gotten and is probably one of the hardest working kids I’ve coached.”
Though Endler leaves behind a Bulls team for good after two seasons with 80-plus saves and allowing 0.9 goals per match over the course of her career, Stokes will head into her last season with USF.
And while USF will be looking to fill the void left in the net with Endler’s departure, her heading to England and seeing Stokes’ success brings some positives to the Bulls, Schilte-Brown said.
“It helps expand (the team’s) horizons and maybe even their aspirations of doing the same some day,” she said.
According to Schilte-Brown, seeing the 6-foot-1 Chilean native go pro was expected given her talents. As for Stokes, Schilte-Brown said she would have thought it crazier if England didn’t add her to their team.
For now, though, USF’s focus is still on the field. Despite one’s new beginning, and one’s success, USF still has its spring game opponents sprinkled into the offseason.
The Bulls will host Stetson for an exhibition Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.