USF (1-3-1) at Marquette (7-0-0)

When: Tonight, 7

Where: Valley Fields

The USF women’s soccer team started its season with five straight road games; seven if you count exhibitions. That number increases Friday when the Bulls travel to Marquette to open Big East play. However, head coach Denise Schilte-Brown refuses to believe that the seven-game road trip has had any negative impact on the team.

“The team understood the circumstances at the beginning of the season,” Schilte-Brown said. “It is an unusual situation, but the team refuses to use that as any kind of excuse.”

Schilte-Brown was hired by USF Athletic Director Doug Wollard in January. As soon as she took over the job, she realized there was a problem.

“Usually schedules are filled up about a year and a half early,” Schilte-Brown said. “When I started, we only had half a schedule filled out for this season. In order to get any games, we had to agree to play on the road.”

It was hard to find teams to play, but Schilte-Brown never stopped working. However, she knew that due to the late scheduling, the team would be playing on the road – a lot.

“We practically had to beg teams to play us this year,” Schilte-Brown said. “With a team that’s improving like ours, we knew that any games we got would be on the road. We’re lucky because we’re playing teams like Florida, Georgia and Miami that are on the level we need to compete at in order to win.”

The Bulls have had a tough schedule to open the season. Schilte-Brown believes that this was a benefit to her team.

“It would have been easy to go out and make an easy schedule for ourselves and (be) assured some quick wins,” Schilte-Brown said. “But I think that our tough schedule has us very prepared for the Big East games we are starting this weekend.”

Junior Lindsay Brauer agrees with her coach.

“As a team, we weren’t really worried about the road games,” Brauer said. “The schedule has a huge benefit to us, too, because we’ve been playing teams as good as any in the Big East.”

On Friday, the Bulls travel to Milwaukee, Wis. for the last game before the Bulls’ home opener.

“I feel like the girls are ready for the Big East,” Schilte-Brown said. “This team made a commitment early in the season to be good on the road. They have been incredibly motivated all year.”

Brauer is ready to end the road trip and play Marquette.

“The team is very excited to open Big East play,” Brauer said. “We’ve been competing with very good teams this season, and we’re definitely ready for conference games to start.”