Bulls’ season ends in Pennsylvania

Despite riding a five-game winless streak into the end of the regular season, the USF women’s soccer team played Villanova on Thursday in the first round of the Big East Conference (BEC) tournament – the team’s first appearance in the BEC tournament since joining the league in 2005. However, the Bulls fell 2-0 to the Wildcats on the road, ending their season.

The Bulls got off to a slow start offensively, taking only one shot attempt in the first half. The Wildcats, on the other hand, took eight shot attempts in the first 45 minutes. In the 31st minute, senior forward Stacia Hartung managed to head a pass just out of the reach of sophomore goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

In the second half, the Bulls came out like a team with its back against a wall. USF kept possession in Villanova territory for most of the second half, while taking nine second-half shots. Junior Lindsay Brauer led the way with three shot attempts, two of which were on goal. However, in the 68th minute of the game, the Wildcats struck again. Mallori Lofton-Malachi deflected a shot, but Villanova forward Nikki Mabery was there to put the rebound into the back of the net.

“Overall, I feel like the team played well,” head coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “We showed a lot of firepower in the second half, but it was a little too late. Unfortunately, we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”

USF finished the season with a 4-10-3 record, but Schilte-Brown is satisfied with her team’s performance on the season.

“We played the fifth-toughest schedule in the country this year, and I was happy with the way the team performed this season,” Schilte-Brown said. “We might have played more road games than any other team in the country, and I think that was a great way to assess the progress we’ve made on the year.”

The Bulls’ schedule included games against five teams currently ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25. Two other teams – Marquette and Georgetown – were ranked in the NSCAA Top 25 when the Bulls played them. Schilte-Brown feels that her team made big strides.

“The girls laid a great foundation this season, and now we have to build upon that,” Schilte-Brown said. “We just have to keep our heads up and improve upon what we did this season.”