It had been 490 days since the USF women’s soccer team last played a regular-season game in Corbett Stadium. On Sunday, however, the Bulls did not appear to have any rust as they took down Temple 2-0 in an all-around performance.
It would be an understatement to say much has changed since the last time USF took the field at home, but one aspect remained the same. The Bulls defeated Temple 2-0 back on Oct. 20, 2019, and did so again Sunday afternoon.
The Bulls (2-0, 1-0 AAC) dominated possession, and all of the scoring chances fell their way.
“I was really proud of the girls,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “They executed our tactics [on Sunday] better than we had been going into this game.”
The opening goal perfectly encapsulated the game plan Schilte-Brown drew up to thwart Temple’s (1-2, 0-2 AAC) stubborn defense.
Just eight minutes into the match, a cross from senior wingback Paula Leblic found the left foot of senior winger Katie Kitching for the opening goal.
The Bulls and Schilte-Brown employed a strategy in which they played with three defenders instead of four, allowing Leblic to push forward and help with the attack while at the same time providing width to stretch the Owls’ back line.
The second goal came via a free kick from Leblic, her first in a USF uniform since transferring from Oregon State. The two scores in conjunction with a commanding defensive performance proved to be enough to secure the win.
Junior goalie Sydney Martinez spent the majority of her time as a spectator to the action, as Temple only mustered two shots at her all game and neither was particularly close to goal.
If there is anything to nitpick from the match, it would be the low conversion rate of all the chances the Bulls had to score.
In total, USF racked up 24 shots, including 12 that tested Owls goalkeeper Kamryn Stablein.
“Obviously the goals were good,” Schilte-Brown said, “[but] we had another bunch of chances I would have liked to have seen go in the back of the net, but credit to Temple and their goalkeeper. They did a good job.”
One of the most positive signs going forward for the Bulls is they never took their feet off the gas pedal, according to Schilte-Brown.
“I’m starting to see some of their endurance,” she said. “The identity of our team is starting to come out.”
USF will now turn its attention to a marquee clash against Florida on Feb. 27 in Gainesville at 6 p.m. The two sides met twice in 2019, with the Bulls having the last laugh after a 4-2 win in the NCAA tournament.