USF begins Big East play

The USF women’s soccer team is running on all cylinders, coming off two wins last weekend, going into their first conference match of the season.

The Bulls (4-2-1) host West Virginia (4-3-0) tonight at 7:30 in the final match of a seven-game home stand. USF last met with the Mountaineers in the Big East championship game last year, where a late West Virginia goal downed the Bulls. However, USF is a different team this season.

Sophomore forward Demi Stokes has proven to be the Bulls’ most significant change from last year. As the lead scorer for the Bulls’ attack this time around, Stokes tallied her third goal of the season last weekend.

USF’s defense has also been a bright spot so far, helping the attack to outshoot every opponent this season except for its first match against UCF.

The Bulls stand at fourth in the Big East for goals scored, with West Virginia four goals behind at eighth in the conference.

Despite that, the Mountaineers come into this match with momentum from two consecutive wins, along with memories of winning last year’s Big East championship.

As both teams enter this match looking for their third consecutive victory and a positive start to the conference season, the Mountaineers hope to repeat last year’s performance against the Bulls.

History doesn’t bode well for the Bulls, who haven’t opened conference play with a win since the 2006 season.

Senior defender Valorie O’Brien, who scored the game-tying goal last Sunday, said she remembers the 1-0 loss to West Virginia and doesn’t plan on it happening again.

“We have a lot of redemption towards West Virginia after they got that goal last season,” she said. “But this is a new year.”

The Bulls will also embark on their first road trip of the conference season for a Sunday match against Pittsburgh. That game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff.