USF draws Auburn in NCAA first round

The 2010 edition of USF’s women’s soccer team (13-4-3) became the first in program history to make the NCAA tournament on Monday.

Players, coaches and media gathered around a big screen TV in the USF athletic facility’s Big East Room to hear official word on the Bulls’ NCAA status.

The anticipation was short lived, however, as the team received a bid in the first bracket with a matchup against the SEC’s Auburn Tigers (11-7-2) on Friday in Tallahassee.

“It was actually really different,” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “When I was at Virginia Commonwealth, when we got into the tournament, we were always in the last bracket, so there was the anticipation. I was taken aback about how quickly our name was called.”

USF’s previous experience with the Tigers also gives the Bulls reason to breathe a sigh of relief going into the tournament, she said.

“We’re familiar with the style of play for Auburn,” Schilte-Brown said, “so we are confident going into this game. For us it’s gonna be more about focusing on what we do and knowing that it’s just another game of soccer, not to get caught up in the hype.”

The Bulls will play in a bracket led by No. 1 seed Stanford and begin competition in the lower section hosted by No. 2 seed Florida State. This means the team may have to travel very little.

“I’m really happy about where our bracket is,” junior defender Valorie O’Brien said. “When we had to play in New Jersey for the Big East tournament, we had to go to huge lengths to stay warm. It’ll be nice to have some familiar weather.”

Following the loss to West Virginia in the Big East title match Sunday, the Bulls have recent history on their side. USF hasn’t lost back-to-back games the entire season.

“I think that’s a sign of our character,” O’Brien said. “We just go back to work and focus on the good things and the task at hand rather than what happened in the past.”