For the first time in school history, USF women’s soccer won the AAC conference championship on Nov. 5. Two weeks later, for only the second time in program history, the Bulls made it into the NCAA Tournament’s second round.
In the tournament’s second round Friday, however, the Bulls’ postseason run came to an end after they fell to No. 16 Florida 1-0 in front of 1,142 at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville.
A goal in the 42nd minute from Florida’s Mayra Pelayo gave the Gators a lead they would never relinquish. Florida outshot USF 12-4 in the game, with the Bulls’ only shot on goal coming from forward Evelyne Viens a minute after Pelayo’s goal.
“We expected a battle, and it certainly was that,” Florida coach Becky Burleigh said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a game with South Florida that wasn’t. They’re a talented team and they brought it all, especially in the second half.”
Before the loss to Florida, USF had gone 11 games without a loss, with the last one being a 1-0 defeat to Cincinnati on Sept. 24.
Though the loss was the last game of five USF senior’s careers as Bulls, the future is still bright for the program. Of the five departing seniors, only three — goalkeeper Kat Elliot, defender Ocean Parr and midfielder Jessica Hamrick — started double-digit games for the Bulls.
Meanwhile, the Bulls will return eight other starters in 2018, including leading-goal scorer and assist leader, Viens, and defender Kelli Burney, both of whom will be juniors next season.
The Bulls’ second leading goal scorer, Aubrey Megrath, will only be a junior next season, as well as Andrea Hauksdottir, whose eight assists in 2017 was second on the team behind Viens’ nine.