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Bulls blank Hatters

Following Sunday?s 4-1 season opening loss to Utah, the USF women?s soccer team earned its first victory Wednesday against Stetson with a 3-0 shutout at the USF Soccer Stadium.

Starting the scoring for the Bulls (1-1) was freshman Rachel Thjomoe, who picked up the ball within a scramble in front of the Hatters? goal and knocked it in the upper left corner.

?Awesome,? Thjomoe said of her first collegiate goal. ?I was actually aiming for the other corner at first but then I saw an opening and finished it on the other side.?

After 12 scoring opportunities, Thjomoe?s goal in the 42nd minute finally came on the 13th opportunity, but USF coach Logan Fleck was not disappointed with only one goal for the half.

?Stetson was playing a counter-attacking style which means they had everyone back behind us. So we knew the first one was going to be the hardest and finally we were able to cash in on Thjomoe?s goal,? Fleck said.

The Bulls dominated the first half statistically, out-shooting the Hatters 6-3 on goal. USF had more corner kicks (six) than Stetson (four) and the Bulls also had 13 scoring opportunities compared to Stetson?s two, which pleased Fleck.

?I think we over-tried in the first half a little, but we are young, I mean we?re still trying to learn each others? middle names,? Fleck said.

The Bulls struck early in the second half when forward Danielle Aldrich netted the second goal of the match on an assist from forward Aleia Long in the 48th minute.

Long was then rewarded for her assist when she took a pass from Thjomoe and drilled the ball near the left post by Stetson goalie Christa Kennon, making the score 3-0 in favor of USF.

?The first one is always the hardest,? Long said of her goal. ?It was a really nice feeling to finally get one.?

The rest of the second half went on much like the first half, with USF failing to cash in on some more scoring opportunities and Stetson failing to mount any real scoring opportunities.

Due to the lack of opportunities allowed by the defense, Bulls? goalies Breck Bankester and Valerie Wetzel did not get a real chance to solidify the position in the ongoing battle for playing time at goalkeeper. Bankester started the game and had three saves, none of which was a legitimate scoring opportunity. Wetzel only saw two shots from Stetson, neither of which was a threat.

?Both of our goalies started to show better distribution and organization. They both were more vocal on the field tonight and were the type of leaders they needed to be,? Fleck said.

Both goalies were awarded game balls by Fleck for their combined shutout, and the three goalscorers, Thjomoe, Aldrich and Long, were also awarded game balls.

Also receiving praise from Fleck were freshmen Christine Koster and Laura Tucker for their play in the midfield. Both controlled the game well for the Bulls and Koster showed a great amount of intensity and focus in her tackling.

?We had eight or nine freshmen out there at once in the second half,? Fleck said. ?That is virtual suicide in most games.?

The match also featured the return of former assistant coach Julie Orlowski, who became the head coach at Stetson this summer. Players from last year?s team greeted Orlowski before the match, but once the match started the focus was on winning.

?I waved hello to her before the game,? said Long. ?But once the whistle blows it?s showtime, baby.?

Fleck said he was pleased with his team?s aggressive play.

?Because we are young, we have only one way to play, and that?s hard. You can?t replace actual game experience for these kids,? he said.

Chris Lemke covers women’s soccer andcan be reached at