USF splits series in New York

The USF women’s soccer team had a chance to make a major statement in the Big East conference this weekend, playing two opponents in road matches.

The Bulls played Friday night at Syracuse, and Sunday afternoon at St. John’s University.

The Bulls were able to prove themselves only once.

The Bulls secured a 1-0 victory at Syracuse with a goal coming in the 10th minute from freshman midfielder Gina Pacheco.

Pacheco said the goal was a great moment for her because adding points to the scoreboard had been her weakness.

“I had been working hard on scoring,” she said. “It was personally fulfilling.”

The goal at the 9:22 mark — the quickest the Bulls have scored this season — came from a play the team had worked on in practice.

Junior Amanda McCormick flicked the ball on for Pacheco, who took advantage and put the ball in the back of the net.  USF is 6-0-2 this season when scoring the first goal and the trend held true as the Bulls went on to a 1-0 victory.

Looking to finish the road trip two-for-two, the Bulls took on the St. John’s Red Storm at their home in Queens, N.Y.

“That’s a tough place to play because of the turf,” USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said.

USF plays on grass, but the field at St. John’s is artificial. The surface is harder and slicker, which can be challenging for teams unfamiliar with it.

Unable to capitalize on the Syracuse victory, USF suffered a 1-0 defeat in a close match. Freshman forward Jen Leaverton netted a goal for St. John’s in the 44th minute, just before halftime.

“(At halftime) I told the team that we have to keep our heads up and stay patient,” Schilte-Brown said. “I thought the offense looked good when they had the chance, but they struggled to hold on to the ball.”

The Bulls struggled on defense, often allowing the Red Storm players extra time to field the ball. The Bulls were never able to recover as St. John’s goalkeeper Kristin Russell held onto the clean sheet, giving the Red Storm their first conference win of the season.

The Bulls fell to 3-3-1 in the Big East and 7-4-3 overall.

USF will play the remaining four games of the regular season at home.

Schilte-Brown said “the team learned a lot from the game” and will apply those lessons in their next match against the Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday at 7:30 p.m.