Bulls can’t capitalize

Although the results were the same, the Bulls (6-8-1, 3-7) gave two completely different efforts as the women’s soccer team closed the home portion of its regular season with two disappointing 1-0 losses to Louisville and Cincinnati.

Sunday against Cincinnati, the Bulls gave up an early goal and played erratically for the rest of the game. The Bulls had scoring chances, but miscommunication – and at times, lack of effort – prevented them from capitalizing.

“Honestly, today we didn’t play our game,” defender Paulina McIntosh said. “The effort wasn’t there. If we played (Cincinnati) the way we played Louisville, we definitely would have won.”

The game’s only goal came when Bearcats midfielder Becky Imhoff scored during the 38th minute. Even though USF outshot Cincinnati 12-10, coach Logan Fleck was disappointed with his team’s offensive output.

“We haven’t had good passing in the box or enough people taking shots,” Fleck said. “We are hesitating on some longer shots, and there’s little bit of selfish play going on right now.”

McIntosh agrees.

“I think we’re not that confident right now, and that’s why we’re not getting the scoring chances we were getting before,” McIntosh said. “We just need to shoot more and attack the box more aggressively.”

The Bulls’ best scoring opportunity came when forward Lindsay Brauer found midfielder Laura Engel on a breakaway, but Engel’s shot went wide left.

Fleck feels the team is trying to adjust to some of the younger players being forced to play because of injuries. Forward Ebony Robinson missed both games this weekend, and midfielder Autumn Browning sat out Sunday – both have leg injuries.

Engel made her collegiate debut against Louisville on Friday after sitting out all season with a broken bone in her foot. She was one of three freshmen to see action Sunday.

“Our team is banged up, and we miss (Browning and Robinson),” Fleck said. “But we have players that need to step up and attack the net. We aren’t playing to what we’re capable of.”

On Friday, USF had two scoring opportunities thwarted early against No. 20 Louisville (11-2-1, 6-2) when goalkeeper Joanna Haig stopped a shot from midfielder Michelle Buskey. On the ensuing corner kick, Haig made another diving save on a header from Browning.

“I think we played one whale of a game (Friday),” Fleck said. “(Haig) made some great saves and really kept them in the game.”

Defensively, the Bulls contained one of the Big East’s most potent offenses all night. Louisville averages two goals per game, ranking the Cardinals third in the conference.

With only 45 seconds remaining in overtime, Louisville was awarded a free kick after a foul. The Cardinals sent a shot toward the net, and the Bulls accidentally headed the ball into their own net.

“That goal probably came off my head,” McIntosh said. “(Louisville) never really had any scoring chances before that. That play never should have happened.”

Even though his team fell, Fleck was satisfied with the Bulls’ effort Friday.

“We played very well. To take a top-20 team to overtime is something,” Fleck said. “We don’t accept losing, but I’m proud of the effort our team gave tonight. Our team showed a lot of character.”

After losing three straight road games by a combined score of 12-1, the Bulls were outscored 5-2 on the four-game homestand.

Even though the defense has improved, McIntosh feels a 1-0 loss hurts the most.

“A 1-0 loss is probably the worst kind,” McIntosh said. “Especially when an opponent scores early and you get into your rhythm and nothing happens. It’s really frustrating.”