Bulls keeping busy

The USF women’s soccer team will finish its stretch of five games in nine days this weekend. The Bulls (3-4-2, 1-2-1 in Conference USA) will host Jacksonville (6-3-1, 3-2-1 Atlantic Sun Conference) today at 5 p.m. and then travel to Boca Raton to take on Florida Atlantic (5-4-1, 2-2-1 Atlantic Sun) Sunday at 1 p.m.

The match against the defending Atlantic Sun champions today features Dolphins sophomore forward Erika Chapman, who was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week with her three goals in matches with Jacksonville State and Samford last week.

Last year, the Bulls defeated the Dolphins 2-1, with junior goalkeeper Valerie Wetzel coming up with five saves.

This year, the Bulls will have to play without junior midfielder Erin Sharpe, who was slapped with a red card for dissent in the hard-fought 1-0 loss against 12th-ranked Florida State Tuesday.

But the Bulls feel optimistic heading into the rest of the season.

“I think we were just unlucky (losing to FSU). We competed very well against a highly ranked team and now everyone sees that we are here,” junior midfielder Amy Wallsmith said.

Junior defender Jamie Anderson added, “We really came together as a team, played through each other, and left it all out on the field.”

Florida Atlantic will be looking to avenge last year’s thriller in which the Bulls won 4-3 on a goal from junior midfielder Michelle Upham in the 108th minute.

Midfielder Tia Opliger, a medical redshirt this year, recorded two goals against the Owls in last year’s victory.

Each team also has defeated Stetson this season, with Florida Atlantic’s 2-0 victory against the Hatters coming Wednesday.

USF coach Logan Fleck said the team is headed in the right direction.

“You have to believe you can be as good as you want to be before you can get there,” he said. “Finally our efforts in practice seem to be getting us somewhere during actual games.”

  • Chris Lemke covers women’s soccer and can be reached at oraclesports@yahoo.com