At USF soccer media day on Aug. 14, women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown talked about taking the season one day at a time, as the Bulls ended last season losing the final five games.
The poor finish resulted in USF missing last year’s Big East tournament. Schilte-Brown said it’s important for the team to not have expectations this year.
“We look at ourselves to improve on a daily basis,” she said. “Let’s not worry about other teams in the conference and where we fit in because you can get too caught up in that.”
An important part of the early-season process, Schilte-Brown said, was getting her offensive players to have a better understanding of the defense. The Bulls return sophomores Gina Pacheco, who played in all of USF’s 18 matches as a freshman, and striker Chelsea Klotz, who scored four goals last season.
However, USF lost two senior defenders, Melanie Sutherland and Jeannette Dyer.
With the attrition, getting new players up to speed is Schilte-Brown’s focus.
“We have really touched on defensive tactics and our team is picking up concepts quickly,” she said. “We’ve focused our offensive players on getting better defensively. The build up defensively looks to be strong coming forward.”
After the Bulls had success early last year, posting a 7-3-3 record through their first thirteen matches, the team slumped as they entered the final stretch of the season.
“Last year, we showed glimpses of greatness some days and the next day it wouldn’t be there,” Schilte-Brown said.
Last season, the Bulls got off to their quick start in nonconference play but finished with a 3-7-1 record in conference.
If USF is going to turn things around, it will probably have a lot to do with senior goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi, who is coming off a record-setting season when she posted seven shutouts and had a program-best 117 saves.
A native of Philadelphia, Lofton-Malachi was ranked second in save percentage in the Big East (.873), and played in every match. However, Lofton-Malachi will have her leadership skills tested, as the Bulls have only four seniors. She said she’s more focused on teamwork.
“I want us to play well together and not worry about our opponents,” she said. “We can’t rest and we need to make better decisions this season.”
USF begins its regular season Friday, hosting Florida Atlantic at 7:30 p.m. at the USF Soccer Stadium.