Weekend wins give Bulls shot at title

After a pair of victories over Conference USA opponents this weekend, the USF women’s soccer team is one win away from at least a share of the regular-season conference title. USF hosts conference leaders UAB on Friday in a game that may well decide the conference championship. A USF win coupled with a DePaul loss would give USF the title outright.

The Bulls (8-6-2, 6-2-1) defeated Memphis 1-0 on Friday in their final road match of the regular season. On Sunday, USF topped TCU 2-1 in overtime at the USF Soccer Stadium.

Midfielder Jenny Mulvihill scored the game winner against Memphis when she headed in her fifth goal of the season on a corner kick from Katie Reed in the 77th minute. Memphis (5-9-3, 2-5-1) could have upset the Bulls, but the Lady Tigers failed to get any of their 13 shots past USF goalkeeper Breck Bankester.

Bankester led the conference in saves heading into the weekend and made several big stops in both matches. She followed up her shutout in Memphis with an eight-save performance against TCU on Sunday.

Against TCU (8-8-1, 6-3-0), Mulvihill and Reed combined for another game winner on a corner kick 2:27 in the first overtime.

The game’s start was delayed when the two teams refused to be the first to break its huddle. Five minutes later the game finally started, but the hostilities continued. TCU and USF coaches repeatedly yelled at each other and the referee during the game, with a TCU assistant coach being yellow-carded late in the first half. USF committed a season-high 18 fouls, one of which led to Reed being yellow-carded near the end of regulation.

Reed was all over the field Sunday, creating several scoring opportunities. In the 31st minute, she dribbled by five TCU defenders before being stopped by a diving save by Katie Buchanan in the TCU goal. In the 70th minute she intercepted a pass on TCU’s half and dribbled through the defense to put a shot on goal. Reed’s play was finally rewarded when her pass from 30 yards out set up Rachel Thjome, who opened the scoring.

TCU missed several opportunities to tie the game, including a goal that was nullified by an offside call. Bankester made several one-handed and diving saves to preserve the lead before TCU’s Laura Greenberg scored with 12 minutes left in regulation. With just over three minutes left, TCU nearly took the lead, but a shot bounced off the crossbar.

USF improved to 2-0-2 in overtime this season. Friday’s showdown with UAB is the Bulls’ final regular season match. Win or lose, the team will then begin preparation for the Conference USA tournament beginning Nov. 4.