It’s safe to say that No. 21 USF women’s soccer met a brick wall Thursday night at Corbett Stadium.
That brick wall was UConn goalkeeper Randi Palacios.
But after being struck enough, it eventually gave way.
Sophomore Emma Davies dealt the final blow.
After taking 11 shots on goal, the Bulls (9-3, 4-1) came from behind and broke UConn’s (6-8-1, 2-5) defense with a game-winning strike from Davies in the 89th minute.
“First thing I wanted to do was cut in, shoot and hope for the best,” Davies said. “Aim far post and that’s what I did.”
Davies wasn’t initially supposed to be in the match at the moment, according to coach Denise Schilte-Brown. Sophomore Katie Kitching was set to return in the order of bench rotation.
“It was kinda Katie’s due to come back in and I said, ‘No, I have confidence in Emma. If she can get her shot off, I feel like she’s going to score a goal,’” Schilte-Brown said.
Schilte-Brown’s decision ultimately paid off.
The Bulls looked doomed to be heading to extra time prior to Davies’ goal — the match was deadlocked 1-1 for most of the latter half.
Junior forward Yamilee Eveillard struck first for the Huskies less than a minute into the second half, putting the Bulls on the back foot.
Senior striker Evelyne Viens followed up with an equalizer a minute later.
The equalizer sent a wave of relief over the Bulls’ bench, according to Schilte-Brown.
“Our style of play … we’re trying to find the right moments to go to goal and sometimes they respond,” Schilte-Brown said. “You knock us down, we’re going to fight to get back up again and then we play.”
The match stayed level, due mostly to Palacios’ nine saves. Prior to the match, she averaged over five saves a game and was second in the AAC in saves per game.
Schilte-Brown was aware of UConn’s keeper, however, she saw a potential to capitalize on a weak link in Palacios’ game.
“I think she’s their high and their low. She comes fishing for balls that’ll cost them goals,” Schilte-Brown said. “We thought there could be something there to take advantage of … but I thought she was very solid tonight.”
One thing the Bulls have done consistently over the course of the season is shoot at a high volume. But those shots often don’t find their mark.
Schilte-Brown said she wants this to improve, but can see progress made through the effort on the pitch.
“I think we should’ve probably had at least one more,” Schilte-Brown said. “But I can’t fault their efforts … they’re shooting, they’re getting on balls, they’re creating opportunities.”
USF faces Temple on Sunday, and given the Bulls’ three-game winning streak and 4-1 record in the conference, Schilte-Brown can’t help but feel there is a target on USF’s back.
“When you’re a solid team and you’re getting national rankings, you’re like a target for everybody,” Schilte-Brown said. “We know that Temple is going to come in here ready to play. But we’re here at Corbett, so I feel pretty good about that.”