The USF women’s soccer team dropped what turned out to be the deciding match for the Conference USA regular-season championship 2-0 to UAB on Friday. The loss gives the Bulls the No. 4 seed going into the C-USA tournament next week.
Going into the game, the Bulls knew that a win would give them at least a share of the conference championship, but after DePaul lost to Saint Louis on Saturday, the Bulls found out the championship would have been theirs outright, had they beat UAB.
“I feel very frustrated for the team, not in them, and that’s a big difference,” USF coach Logan Fleck said. He had a lot of praise for many of his players, especially goalkeeper Breck Bankester, who made eight saves in the match. Fleck said Bankester showed that she is the best goalkeeper in C-USA, at least of all the goalkeepers he has seen so far this season.
And although the junior let two goals slip through in the second half, Fleck did not put the blame on the Bankester.
“She played outstanding tonight,” Fleck said.
The Bulls played hard in a first half with play that Fleck called “outstanding.” The Bulls were able to hold UAB to no points in the half after some improbable saves by Bankester, including a pair of diving one-handed stops. In the 33rd minute of play Jennifer Calalang received a pass at the top of the six-yard box. She turned and fired a low shot that had Bankester diving to the ground to make the save. The ball rebounded to Jill Knottek, who took a shot, trying to take advantage of the fallen Bankester, but Bankester was able to leap from the ground to save the shot.
For the last 10 minutes of the first half the USF players on the sidelines stood and slapped the bench trying to rally the squad but to no avail.
In the second half, UAB’s offense started to click and they were able to score a couple of goals. The two-goal lead was enough to hold off the Bulls and give the Blazers their first regular-season conference title.
USF leaves today to travel to Charlotte for the C-USA tournament, one they will have to win to extend the season and make the NCAA tournament.