Women’s soccer gets first Big East win of season

After a scoreless battle against Connecticut Thursday night, the USF women’s soccer team ended the weekend on a positive note as it took care of Providence 2-0 on Sunday en route to the team’s first conference win of the year.

Sophomore midfielder Brittany Pilon scored her first goal as a Bull at the 33:31 mark of the first half, grabbing the rebound of a redirected corner kick and putting it past the outstretched arm of Providence goalkeeper Jill Schott.

“I just like to hang back and wait for a rebound,” Pilon said. “It came to me, and I just placed it in the corner.”

This goal, combined with junior goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi’s performance, paved the way for the Bulls on Sunday as they prepare for a four-game stretch on the road starting Friday at Notre Dame.

Malachi tied a career high with 11 saves Thursday against Connecticut. On Sunday, she recorded her fourth shutout in a row and fifth of the year.

“Mallori is just having an outstanding season,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “I’m really excited for her.”

Though Lofton-Malachi has had a lot of success on the field thus far, the defense has really picked it up as of late, Schilte-Brown said.

“The team defends really well as a unit,” she said. “It’s not just the defenders, it’s defending in the mid-field, defending from the forwards. Collectively, they’ve done a great job.”

Not even halfway through the 2008 campaign, the Bulls have surpassed their win total and scoring output from last season.

The Bulls’ trek to Connecticut on Thursday yielded a 0-0 overtime tie in which USF was out-shot 33 to 9. 

Lofton-Malachi again asserted herself as the difference-maker for the Bulls, stopping all 11 of Connecticut’s shots on goal.

“She’s an incredible athlete,” Schilte-Brown said.

USF has now gone to overtime in seven of its last 10 games, posting a 2-2-3 record in those contests. The Bulls move to 5-2-3 on the season.

“I feel like we’re peaking at the right time in the season,” Schilte-Brown said.

Providence — picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST American division — racked up wins early in the season and came into Sunday’s game against USF with a 5-2-1 record. Nonetheless, the Bulls continued their successful streak against the conference foe and are now 3-0-1 all-time against the Friars.

The Bulls look to carry this momentum to the Midwest, where they will take on Notre Dame Friday at 7:30 p.m.