No. 11 USF women’s soccer fell 3-0 to No. 18 Memphis in the AAC Tournament championship game on Sunday at Corbett Stadium.
Memphis set the pace early, scoring in the sixth minute of the game with a goal by Clarissa Larisey. The quick start continued for the Tigers, as Memphis put up seven shots, including Larisey’s goal, before the Bulls were able to put up their first shot, which came in the 27th minute from Sydny Nasello.
“It started in warm-up. I just felt like the energy was off,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said.
“The speed of reaction when we were going into tackles, we were almost, it felt like, saving ourselves, I would say. I don’t know where that mentality came from.”
Memphis took a 1-0 lead into halftime before coming out roaring in the second half, when Larisey scored again in the 54th minute. Carolina Duncan scored in the 70th minute to round out the scoring and put the proveribal dagger in USF’s chances at mounting a comeback.
USF was unable to get anything going offensively for the majority of the afternoon. The Bulls only put up three shots on goal on the night, a far cry from the 11 they put up against ECU in the semifinal game on Friday.
USF star forward Evelyne Viens was unable to get anything going, as she was defended heavily by Memphis’ Chanel Hudson-Marks, who won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. Viens was only able to take two shots in 73 minutes of play.
Schilte-Brown said that, despite the loss in the conference championship game, there are still things that can be taken away from Sunday.
“You talk about the game, you don’t just throw it in the garbage,” Schilte-Brown said. “You say, ‘Look at how many touches we took every time we got on the ball.’ We have to play faster, braver and we need good energy … we’re in good physical shape, it just seemed to be more of a mentality.”
Sunday’s loss was the first time the Bulls have lost at Corbett Stadium since Aug. 27, 2017, against then-No.4 North Carolina. It was also USF’s first loss against an AAC opponent at Corbett Stadium since Sept. 29, 2016, against SMU.
The loss does not end USF’s season, as the Bulls have a resume that is certainly good enough to earn them an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. While USF has known it has had a resume good enough for NCAA play for a while, that’s not always a good thing.
“I think knowing that you’re in the NCAA [Tournament], sometimes it can be a challenge to keep your mind focused on the task at hand,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think we were not ready to produce the energy that we needed to compete with a team like Memphis.”
USF will find out where and when it will be playing to open NCAA play during a selection show watch party, which will be held in the Hall of Fame Room in the Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center starting at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.