Surging Bulls look for next step in historic run
The USF women’s soccer team (12-4-3) is on a dream run this season, with momentum on its side as it looks to move one step closer to its first Big East championship.
In a situation similar to USF’s first-round match when it won at Georgetown in the quarterfinals Monday after losing to the Hoyas 3-1 in the regular season, the Bulls look to avenge a regular-season loss to Marquette (15-3-2), who they face Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
The game, which will be played at Rutgers’ home stadium, is USF’s first appearance in the tournament’s semifinals in school history.
“After the Georgetown game, we took time to celebrate,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “Because when you make history as a program, you get excited. It’s a big deal. But at the same time, now we are focusing on Marquette because you have to keep your eyes on the path rather than that prize, or the NCAA tournament.”
The Bulls are on a five-game win streak and have only allowed one goal during their last 507 minutes of play.
With Marquette a familiar foe, Schilte-Brown said a rematch could be an advantage.
“I think it’s a tremendous help. One of the things I really liked about going to Georgetown is that we didn’t really feel we played all that well,” she said. “Then you had first-hand experience. Instead of focusing on results, we wanted to play well against (Georgetown), and it’s similar to (playing) Marquette.
“I don’t think we felt physically or mentally prepared for the game (in the regular season), therefore didn’t handle it as well as we could. Now, we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves from respect on the field and what we’re able to accomplish and hopefully that will turn into a positive result.”
The win over Georgetown also propelled the Bulls five spots higher in the latest RPI rankings, which determine the teams that play in the NCAA tournament. The Bulls sit at No. 38, with the top 64 teams earning a spot.
“I think the girls are proud of themselves, and they were ready for the next step,” Schilte-Brown said. “It means a lot to the program because you want to see growth every year, and I think that’s what we have been seeing. I think this was the next step.”
The game will be televised on CBS College Sports.