The USF women’s soccer team (11-4-3) is ready for another chance at the postseason.
The Bulls, who are making a postseason appearance for the second consecutive year, take on the Georgetown Hoyas (13-5-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C.
“There’s just a different excitement level, it’s very special,” sophomore midfielder Taylor Patterson said of the postseason.
For the first time in school history, the Bulls earned a first-round Big East tournament bye, meaning they begin play in the quarterfinals, after winning 11 games during the regular season, the most ever under coach Denise Schilte-Brown.
“You know I think because this is the first time in school history that we have gotten that first-round bye, it’s a big deal from a progression standpoint,” Schilte-Brown said. “We are improving as a program. And it’s great because the girls have been playing and battling every game, so the bye is nice in a recovery standpoint.”
Last season, after a 1-0 win over DePaul in the first round, the Bulls were routed 5-0 by Notre Dame in the next game.
This season’s Bulls, however, have the luxury of playing a team with which they’re familiar. USF traveled to then-No. 22 Georgetown on Oct. 1, losing 3-1.
“We are a bit more confident mentality-wise this time out,” junior goalkeeper Nicole McClure said, “because we played this team and we know them a little bit better.”
Schilte-Brown said the team’s mindset won’t change entering the match.
“I don’t think our preparation for this postseason is going to be any different,” she said. “I always say that we are going to take things one game at a time, and it’s the same thing here. We are just going to go with what’s working for us, offensively and defensively.”
Having played in the tough loss to Notre Dame last season, Patterson said she knows the intensity level increases this late in the season.
“This time, it’s going to be all about our preparation before the game,” she said. “We just have to believe in our team and we will be fine.”
The Bulls still have a shot at a spot in the NCAA tournament. According to Soccer America, five Big East teams, including USF, are predicted to make the field.
The top 64 RPI teams reach the tournament, and the Bulls sit at 46th.
“It’s everyone’s dream to play in the NCAAs, and try to go far into them,” Patterson said. “It’s a really big deal.”