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Passariello leading USF with play and personality

While some players seize their opportunities, USFjunior forward Sharla Passariello is more likely to take hers and smashed them into the nearestsoccer goal.

Throughout the offseason, the USF womens soccer team was looking for a productive scorer someone to help lead the team back to the NCAA Tournament after the Bulls made their first ever trip to the postseason tournament in 2010. They found her in the form of the 5-foot-5 forward from the UnitedKingdom.

We knew Sharla would have big expectations coming into the season, coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. And she executed so well and so early, it developed confidence in the way that were going to play this season as a whole, and her (season)as well.

The Abergavenny, Wales,native showed a new determination and production level from the opening kick of 2012, scoring three goals in two preseason games before continuing her aggression into the regular season. Through seven games, Passariello has four goals two shy of her career total prior to the2012 season.

Scoring and stuff was fun to start the season, and it got alittle harder as the games wore on. We were giving ourselves a challenge, Passariello said. I think the exhibitions wereimportant to get confidence going into the season.

Schilte-Brown said she saw something from Passarielloduring the offseason thatconfirmed the juniors status as one of the faces of the team.

When nobody was looking this year, Sharla was outrunning and getting better, Schilte-Brown said. She came in with a great level of fitness to compete and now we dont have to take her off the field.

Passariello attributes her success to her work during the offseason making sure she could bring what was required tothe team.

I didnt really think about this season as me coming in to be the leader, she said. I think I was just training a lot to make the team as a whole better, and kind of just improve our team standard and quality by training hard.

The junior communications major has experience playing for the U-19 and U-17 Welsh national teams, beginning at the age of 14. She said she hopes to pursue an international soccer career after her time at USF is completed.

Hopefully I could do something like that, she said. Im definitely going to try and stay involved there.

Though opposing keepers may fear the junior forward,Passariello is known as one of the main jokers on the team, creating an atmosphere of levity and humor, and is a big fan of pranks. The script was flipped following a road win over Indiana on August 24. After scoring two goals in the 3-0 win, Passariello was hit with a whipped cream pie during a postgame interview.

Sharla is just a really funny girl, Schilte-Brown said, She makes it a priority to laugh, she enjoys life, she enjoyssoccer, but she does a good job of making everyone around her laugh and smile. And shes one of those people that you can pie in the face and get away with it, because she takes it so well.

Passariello herself said the humor and jokes are something that come naturally to her, and that its the atmosphere of the team round the locker room as a whole.

I think its just natural, she said. It helps the team as a whole, and theres a lot of other jokers on the team, but yeah, Im a bit of a jokester.

The teams trip continues Sunday when they open their Big East season at home against Pittsburgh at 1 p.m.

The atmosphere has changed, Passariello said,Everyone is really close this year, everyone as a unit is performing well, everyone is doing a good job. Everyones been working hard and training, the difference comes from how much were putting in.