Soccer’s offense struggling

The USF women’s soccer team will head south on Sunday to face intrastate opponent Florida Atlantic University in hopes of bringing home some wins after a 2-1 loss against Miami.

So far, this season’s solid defense has kept USF (1-2) in games while the young offense has struggled. And with the offensive struggles, Bulls coach Logan Fleck now wants his defenders to contribute offensively.

“We also like them to come up and attack. If Stacci Sastre comes forward, those are (the types of) things we want to see,” Fleck said.

USF will need offensive production from veteran back players like Sastre and Tara Escribano. The Bulls’ only win this season came when a defender scored — a goal by Sastre in a 1-0 victory against Stetson.

“Every game, if the offense can’t get off shots, someone has to step up,” Sastre said.

So far this season, the Bulls have been out-shot by opponents 61-29, scoring only three goals in three games. With the lack of offense, Fleck said the team has to rely heavily on staunch defense, especially when the Bulls begin conference play next week.

“You do not win in our conference without a good defense,” Fleck said.

Juniors Sastre and Escribano are staples in the Bulls’ defense this season, and both understand what it takes to be a team leader.

“A leader is somebody who leads by example and shows everybody what to do, not only by voice but also by action as well,” Escribano said. “I think that (Stacci and I) do a good job of that because we have been here for three years now, and we know what is going on with the program. Hopefully, we can lead the team to success.”

Junior goalkeeper Breck Bankester, a preseason all-conference selection, provides leadership between the posts.

“We all step up and have a certain (amount of) leadership on the team,” Bankester said.

USF looks to continue what has been good defensive play as it moves into conference play next week, but the Bulls first must get past FAU. The Bulls won 2-1 last season, with forward Katie Reed scoring one of USF’s goals, while holding a 6-2 all-time record against the Lady Owls.

But Sunday’s match won’t be easy, as Fleck pointed out that all Florida teams are tough and are fighting for respective league championships each year. Also, FAU recently beat the Hurricanes, to whom the Bulls lost last Sunday.

“They are a hardworking team. They beat Miami in overtime, so they fight until the end,” third-year forward Rachel Thjomoe said.

“They know that FAU wants to come in and play them hard,” Fleck said.