Bulls need strong showing in tournament

If the USF womens soccer team hopes to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history the Bulls will need to make an impressive showing in the Big East Tournament.

On Sunday, the Bulls, who are No. 2 in the Big East American Division behind Marquette, will host a Big East Tournament quarterfinal round game against the Louisville Cardinals a team USF played to a draw at Corbett Stadium on Sept. 30.

The last time Corbett Soccer Stadium was host to a Big East Tournament game, the USF mens soccer team played Villanova in the quarterfinals of the 2011 postseason tournament, a game that the Bulls lost 1-0.

Though the mens team still managed to make the NCAA Tournament field, even getting a first-round bye and hosting two games thanks to a No. 8 seed, the womens squad cannot afford the same kind of result this season.

As of the end of the regular season which the Bulls ended with a 4-0 loss to No. 18 Marquette the team sits at No. 56 in the RPI rankings, eight spots ahead of the 64-team NCAA Tournament cutoff.

As a bubble team, an early exit in the conference tournament could mean being excluded from the NCAA Tournament.

When the Bulls made the first NCAA Tournament in school history in 2010, USF was the third seed in the Big East American Division and traveled to Washington to take on Georgetown.

Back-to-back wins over the Hoyas and Marquette sent the Bulls to the Big East championship game, which USF lost to West Virginia. However, the run to the conference title game was enough to garner a spot in the 64-team tournament field.

Much like the USF mens basketball team a season ago which lost the final game of the regular season to West Virginia, a game that could have virtually punched its NCAA Tournament ticket the womens soccer team will likely need at least one conference tournament victory to safely make the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulls open their conference tournament run on Sunday at 1 p.m.