Last weekend, it was 2002 regular-season Conference USA champion Charlotte that fell victim.
Sunday the women’s soccer team was at it again, notching a 2-0 win against 2002
C-USA tournament champion Cincinnati at the USF Soccer Stadium.
The Bulls’ blanking of the Bearcats, their fourth consecutive win, followed Friday’s 2-1 victory against Louisville and leaves the Bulls in second place in C-USA.
“I think things are really starting to fall in place,” Fleck said. “We’re really starting to play good soccer.”
The depth of the Bulls’ defense was tested this weekend following the loss of defender Tara Escribano, who fractured her right wrist in practice Wednesday. Escribano’s absence proved not to be a factor as backup Mindy Mulvihill, who made her first start against the Cardinals Friday, settled effortlessly into the Bulls’ defense.
“Today what made me feel very good was the play of Mindy Mulvihill in the back, who has played very well stepping in for Tara (Escribano),” Fleck said.
Mulvihill did more than defend, however. The sophomore weighed in with the Bulls’ second goal at the end of the first half against Cincinnati. Her first goal of the season came after a Bulls corner kick deflected off a Bearcats defender. Mulvihill collected the ball and fired a shot at an empty space near the post.
“There was nobody around me for 15 yards and nobody on the post,” Mulvihill said. “I was just wide open.”
It looked as if the Bulls would have to play from behind early in the game when the Bearcats scored off a corner kick in the 15th minute, but the play was ruled offside.
USF (4-3-1, 3-0-1) was able to get on the board when Laura Tucker scored her second goal of the season. The play started when Bankester leaped high in the air to grab a Cincinnati corner kick. She quickly underhanded the ball down the left side of the field and a series of quick passes delivered the ball to Tucker’s feet at the top of the box. She then bent a shot past a diving Bearcat goalkeeper.
After Mulvihill’s goal made the score 2-0, USF was able to shut the door defensively and still outshoot Cincinnati 8-6 in the second half.
Friday night’s game against Louisville was much more evenly matched. Both teams had few scoring chances in the first half, but the Cardinals (3-3-1, 0-2-1) were able to score in the 41st minute when Ashley Garcia sent a ball to Kim Jents, who broke toward the net and beat Bankester for the only goal in the half.
The second half was a different story, as the Bulls dominated play, pinning Louisville in their own half of the field. USF leveled the match when Mulvihill’s twin sister, Jenny Mulvihill, blasted a low shot past the Louisville goalkeeper.
The game looked like it would go into overtime until the last minute of play when Katie Reed collected a ball from 25 yards out and roped a shot that cannoned off the crossbar and returned into play. A scramble ensued for a few seconds as several USF players tried to kick the loose ball into the net until the referee’s whistle ended the commotion. The official judged that the ball bounced over the line from Reed’s original shot.
“It was a weird goal,” Reed said. “It was like a backspin kind of thing.”
The Louisville coaches argued the call to no avail. Fleck understood the controversy, but was still happy with the win.
“Call it controversial but it’s absolutely a win that we’re going to take. I’m not going to apologize for us winning the game.”