Bulls open renovated stadium

Though two games have already been played in Tampa, the USF women’s soccer team  will finally take its own field tonight.

The Bulls will play at the newly renovated USF Soccer Stadium when they host in-state rival Stetson tonight and Illinois State on Sunday afternoon.

The team used the University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium to play home games while the USF soccer stadium was being refurbished.

Coach Denise Schilte-Brown said she is excited about finally kicking off at the new venue.

“We are anticipating a good weekend. Our school has done such a tremendous job,” she said. “We got a chance to go out and train on the new field this week, and everything looks great.”

The stadium has an enlarged playing surface, making it more compatible with soccer. In addition, the stadium has a new LED scoreboard.

The Bulls will take the field tonight on a high note.

Amanda McCormick’s lone goal gave USF a 1-0 victory over Kent State on Friday, and the Bulls will be looking to add to that momentum.

In the first part of the season, the team had to travel downtown for home games in addition to taking road trips to Alabama and Tennessee. After last week’s victory, Schilte-Brown said she’s happy to see the squad get a whole week off from traveling.

She said the time off was beneficial to the Bulls, but she is ready to get back on the field.

“The time off has been great,” she said. “The team is young, so they needed some time to rest and catch up on school work. We have some rested legs and some players coming off injury.”

Freshmen Noelle Pineiro and Valorie O’Brien will be returning from injuries. Pineiro suffered an undisclosed injury last week, and O’Brien has been dealing with a sprained ankle.

The Bulls will play Stetson tonight at 7:30 and Illinois State on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Stetson Hatters will make the short road trip from Deland — just north of Orlando — to Tampa.

The Hatters have yet to win a game this year and have been outscored 11-3 by opposing teams.

Because they are located so closely, USF and Stetson have formed a rivalry, said Randy Belli, who spent the last three years as an assistant coach at USF.

“It’s always a challenge when you play someone in-state like Stetson,” he said. “Pride is on the line. I think it will be a very physical encounter.”

On Sunday, the Bulls will host the Redbirds, who have a 3-3-0 record but have lost three straight games.

Schilte-Brown said she is hoping to take advantage of the motivation gained from playing both games at the new field.

“I hope we can play well and get two victories,” she said. “Being at the new stadium will get the adrenaline pumping and we will be hoping to defend our house.”