Just when it looked like USF’s hopes of qualifying for the Big East tournament might not be realized, the women’s soccer team scored twice in the second half of Sunday’s game against St. John’s, securing a 3-2 win and remaining in the running for tournament play.
USF entered the weekend five points out of a qualifying position, with three games remaining in the regular season.
The Bulls (6-7-4, 2-5-3) went head-to-head on the road at Syracuse on Friday night, where they fought their way into double overtime through rainy conditions in upstate New York. Bad luck plagued the Bulls, as they hit both the post and the cross bar in regulation, but not the net.
The Orange (7-6-3, 6-4-0) struggled to score on USF goalkeeper Nicole McClure, who had six saves against the Syracuse attack in regulation play.
However, after two scoreless halves, Orange sophomore defender Cecilia Borgstrom managed to score from the top corner of the box with less than one second left in the game, handing USF a 1-0 loss. Despite the loss, USF didn’t make it easy for the Orange, recording 10 shots, five of which were attempted by senior forward Chelsea Klotz.
“It was a very tough game in Syracuse,” USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “The girls fought really hard.”
With the Syracuse loss in the books, the Bulls headed to Queens to square off against the Red Storm on Sunday. About halfway through the first half, the Red Storm (8-8-1, 4-6-0) scored first with a goal from freshman forward Chelsey Martino. The first half scoring didn’t stop there, as USF sophomore forward Sharla Passariello equalized in the 38th minute.
USF’s Noelle Pieiro scored a go-ahead goal in the 69th minute, but St. John’s responded quickly. Just 10 minutes later, a goal from Jen Leaverton drew the Red Storm even.
With the score tied at 2-2, Passariello scored her second goal of the game in the 80th minute to give USF its second Big East win and snap a four-game losing streak.
“We really showed our character (Sunday),” Schilte-Brown said. “We’ve had a series of unfortunate events on the field, having the ball hit the crossbar or post and not go in. It would have been easy for a team to give up on these opportunities, but the girls optimistically took the chance to play soccer and show off their abilities.”
USF now has just one game remaining in the regular season and is still three points behind fifth place in the Big East’s American Division. For the Bulls to qualify for the conference tournament, they will need a win on the road against Marquette this weekend and losses by both St. John’s and Providence.