Despite a number of Bulls’ players battling the flu, a quick start and two goals by freshman forward Evelyne Viens led the Bulls to a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon over the visiting Houston Cougars at Corbett Soccer Stadium.
With a handful of Bulls out Sunday, including senior defender Jordyn Listro, freshman midfielder Andrea Hauksdottir and freshman forward Gudrun Sigurdardottir, USF turned an early 2-0 lead into a defensive match.
“We have a virus in our team, so it’s important that their bodies fully recover,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “We had three starters affected by (the virus) and a bunch of players that weren’t doing so well.”
After the Bulls’ hot start, the game tightened and turned into a possession-oriented match that was contested until the final seconds, as Houston cut the goal deficit to one in the 55th minute on a penalty kick effortlessly stashed into the right netting by Houston’s Vanessa Almaguer.
Houston’s penalty kick made Viens’ two early scores all the more important on a sweltering day at Corbett Stadium with 570 fans in attendance. It has not been an easy transition from the Canadian winters to routinely playing in the relentless Florida sun for Viens, who reflected on her path from the first practices of the season to her current status as offensive stalwart for the Bulls.
“I knew that it would be hot out there, the first practice I did, I called my parents and said, ‘I think it’s over, I will never pass the (fitness) test,” Viens said. “Some girls are big and strong on the field, so I train three, four times a week plus practice so I wanted to be ready.”
Viens has been more than ready so far in 2016, leading the Bulls with her tenth and eleventh goals of the season against the Cougars on Sunday.
Her first goal came in the 5th minute, as she drilled a low line drive from inside the box across the goalie’s face and into the left corner of the net.
Then again in the 13th minute, Viens found the net once again, this time using a touch on a low-driven assist from fellow Canadian teammate Yasmine Hall to sneak the ball past Houston’s goalie, Nicole Young.
This second goal would prove to be the game-clincher, and a crucial hot-start for a team with multiple starters battling flu-like symptoms.
In a game preceded by an evening practice and a virus that has been making its round on the roster, these early scores would be crucial as signs of fatigue began to set in during the second half.
“The loss (against SMU) maybe hit us harder than we thought, and I think the coaching staff perhaps didn’t give (the team) enough recovery (time),” Schilte-Brown said. “We have like six kids sick, so I would say … there was some sort of burnout effect in the second half, almost like they weren’t sure why.”
In order to prepare for Friday’s tilt against rival UCF, Schilte-Brown pointed to the team’s preparation plan for the upcoming week.
“A good rest, recovery … and we’ll be where we need to be.”