‘Noles have Bulls’ number

The USF women’s soccer team has never tasted victory against the Seminoles. There may be no conference wins at stake, but a distaste for the opponent should ensure that tonight’s match at the USF Soccer Stadium is anything but meaningless.

“We know we are going to play hard because it’s FSU and we know we don’t like them,” Tara Escribano said. “They are definitely big rivals.”

This is probably USF’s best chance yet to knock off the visiting Seminoles. The Bulls are hot going into tonight’s match against No.21 FSU, having won three straight games.

The meeting is the first of two mid-season non-conference games, but the Bulls are not taking this game lightly.

“It’s not a break because we still need to keep our momentum going, and even though it is not a conference game, it is still a game that counts,” Escribano said. “We still need to come in tough and play hard and win the game.”

Escribano, who fractured her wrist in practice last week, is expected to be out at least three weeks, so tonight’s game and Tuesday’s against Jacksonville minimize the number of conference matches she misses. Though she is dying to get back on the field, being on the sideline has helped Escribano by giving her a different perspective of soccer.

“It’s sometimes better when you look from the sideline.” Escribano said. “You get to look at a play or look at a position differently than if you were playing.”

Even in defeat, the Bulls have historically played FSU tough. The last three games were decided by one goal, the most recent being last season’s 3-2 loss.

The Seminoles (5-3-1) come in off an important 2-1 win over ACC rival Maryland, then ranked No. 14. FSU also recently beat Miami 7-1, a team the Bulls lost to 2-1 earlier in the season. Soccer America ranks FSU No. 21, the only top-25 team with four losses.

USF is currently in second place in Conference USA behind only 4-0 DePaul but still comes in as a heavy underdog. The Bulls are using this to their advantage.

“I think (being an underdog) helps us,” Escribano said. “People don’t expect you to win so when you come out and play well it keeps them on their heels.”