It’s no longer the Big East Conference for the USF women’s soccer team as it travels an hour and a half to Orlando to begin American Athletic Conference play Friday night against UCF.
Days after their 1-0 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars, the Bulls (5-1-3) come into conference play looking to avenge their 3-1 loss to the Knights (7-2-1) last year.
“There is a lot of individual talent in their front line up, so it will take a good team effort to defend them,” USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “We will have to play quickly and be conscientious for 90 minutes because I think they’re a team that will be physical from start to finish.”
As they prepare for the Knights, Schilte-Brown also said one of the keys to defeating UCF is to win balls in the air.
“They’re a strong team in the air and they have good height across the board,” she said. “One of the goals will be aerial battle.”
Though USF has been able to reach the final third of the field, the attacking zone, averaging 15 shots per game, Schilte-Brown said her team is continuing to develop scoring opportunities in their possession attacking-style system.
Unlike USF, which doesn’t score a lot of goals, the Knights have won games where they have scored multiple goals, averaging two per match.
Led by junior forward Tatiana Coleman, who leads the Knights with seven goals and 23 shots, UCF enters conference play having won the last five out of six games, defeating Florida Gulf Coast University 4-0 last Sunday.
Coleman has a tendency to kick with her right foot, which Schilte-Brown said she would like to see minimized against her top defenders in sophomore defender Diana Saenz and freshman Daniela Capozza.
“We know that she is right-footed and likes to cut in and shoot, but she’s playing against a really strong defender in Daniela and Dani,” Schilte-Brown said. “It’s preparing for her tendencies and knowing what she is going to do.”
Both teams are similar in their defensive approach, USF allowing four goals on the season to UCF’s five.
The match is set to begin at 6 p.m.