As though they didn’t already have enough to deal with, the USF women’s soccer team faced a unique challenge in their 1-0 victory at conference foe Tulane on Sunday: Astroturf.
“We never get to play or practice on that type of surface,” USF coach Logan Fleck said.
Not that it mattered. The somewhat road-weary Bulls (3-5-2, 2-2-0 C-USA) beat Tulane (3-5-2, 3-2-1 C-USA) two days after defeating Southern Miss 3-0 in Hattiesburg, a win that earned USF its first conference win of the season.
Versus Tulane, junior Michelle Buskey scored the game’s only goal early in the first half. Erica Lewis was credited with the assist.
“Erica (Lewis) gave me a really great ball,” Buskey said. “And I just gave it a hard rip.”
Against Southern Miss (5-5-1, 1-4-0 C-USA) the Bulls emerged from a scoreless first half to put on a show in the second.
Junior Katie Reed scored in the 49th minute, giving the Bulls their first goal since Sept. 18 versus Florida Atlantic.
Then, just fifteen minutes later, senior Tara Escribano scored her first goal of the season to put USF up 2-0.
In the 88th minute, Jessica Zabel sealed the win when she scored off a corner kick.
“Southern Miss was a good pressure game for us,” Fleck said. “They came out very hard and we responded well. The one thing I can see is that we’re winning the midfield. Jenny Mulvihill is winning a lot of balls for us there.”
Another move that has helped the Bulls was repositioning team leader Escribano from sweeper to defensive midfield and putting freshman Jeannette Dyer at sweeper.
Dyer, who was first put in at sweeper versus FSU on Oct. 5., got her first start at Tulane.
“(Dyer) is doing very well,” Fleck said.
With two wins this weekend, the Bulls climbed back into the thick of the Conference USA standings. USF has six conference games left to play.
“I don’t think most people would have picked us to win these two games,” Fleck said. “So I could not be prouder of them. I had suspicions we were a good team and we came out and earned these two very good wins on the road.”