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Slow start costs Bulls conference opener

A sluggish start was too much to overcome for USF in its Big East opening 2-1 loss to Marquette on Friday night at the USF Soccer Stadium.

On a day in which Marquette’s offense looked more aggressive than USF’s defense, the Bulls weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities throughout the game. A promising attack nearly resulted in a quick score for the Bulls just after the two-minute mark. After a quick aggressive push, when junior midfielder Valorie O’Brien dribbled a loose ball, her shot was blocked by Marquette goalkeeper Natalie Kulla.

Coach Denise Schilte-Brown said Marquette’s aggressiveness may change the Bulls’ mindset heading into their second conference game.

“I think this is about a mentality change. We just need to come out and be more physical for the beginning of the game, set a tone early on. It’s very important for us (to start faster) something we want to work on,” Schilte-Brown said.

Marquette used corner kick opportunities to its advantage,

getting seven chances to USF’s zero. The Golden Eagles turned their first into a goal and, for the second straight match, the Bulls fell behind early.

In the second half, the Bulls broke through in the 51st

minute when Venicia Reid’s cross was finished by Taylor Patterson for the equalizer.

“There were some good things we did, especially in the final third when we scored the goal, something that we have been working on for a while, the crossing and the finishing,” Schilte-Brown said.

USF’s inability to clear the ball became problematic After another strong push, the Golden Eagles’ Ashley Bares crossed in a pass that bounced in the box, and after many failed attempts at clearing the ball, Taylor Madigan tapped in a rebound for the go-ahead goal, which held up as the game-winner.

“Marquette really came to play, you know, we just had to match their physicality, and we made some adjustments at the end of the first half and into the second half,” Schilte-Brown said.

The Bulls (5-2-1), who have won three of their five home games this season, host Pittsburgh on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.