Time to stampede, Bulls!
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Commentary: USF women’s soccer should have no problem defending home-field advantage

USF junior forward Leticia Skeete enters Saturday afternoon’s showdown against Florida Gulf Coast with seven goals. 
ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

When the USF women’s soccer team stepped onto the field this summer, baking in the blistering Florida heat, one thing was clear: this season would be different.

Last season, USF fell to UConn 3-2 in penalty kicks in the AAC championship game. The following weekend, they fell again 3-2 to Illinois State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Both losses came at home.

Coming off yet another conference heartbreak, this team will come home to Corbett Stadium and wreak havoc.

Need a little convincing?

This year, the Bulls (15-3-2) have put emphasis on defending their home turf.

With an undefeated record (6-0-1) in Corbett, USF has been surging toward a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.

The Bulls’ 15 wins are tied for the most in school history, marking the fourth straight year the Bulls have finished with 10 or more wins.

Still need more?

USF has outscored opponents 19-2 in seven games, allowing a goal in only one game under the gleaming lights of Corbett.

The Bulls rank first in the AAC in goals allowed (13).

As if the Bulls’ imposing defense wasn’t enough to have the Eagles cowering in their nest, USF’s high-powered offense isn’t one to overlook.

The Bulls rank second in the AAC in goals scored with senior Olivia Chance and junior Leticia Skeete both ranking in the top 10.

The Bulls’ reward? A home matchup with Florida Gulf Coast (13-5-2, 3-4-1 on the road) on Saturday afternoon inside what has come to be one of the hardest venues for opponents to crawl out with a win.

“We’re excited for our home game,” USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said in a press release. “It’s a great draw for us. They’re a tough opponent, but we’re just going to take this one game at a time.”

This is the third time in program history USF has boasted an unblemished record at home — the second in two years.

In 2013, the Bulls went 8-0-3 but fell to UCF in the semifinals of the AAC tournament.

USF’s only other undefeated season at home came in 1998 when the Bulls went 10-0 under former coach Logan Fleck, losing only one regular season game. 

USF dominated at home showing little mercy, but also proved it was just as lethal on the road, recording only four losses.

Coming into the season, Schilte-Brown said she felt her team had the maturity to win on the road. 

She was right.

USF’s 10-game road schedule included three matchups with ranked teams (Clemson, Texas and UConn), in which USF went 1-1-1.

After a three-game road trip in Dallas — USF lost in PKs in the AAC tournament finals — the Bulls will return to the cozy confines of Corbett where they look to rewrite their recent postseason history against the Eagles.

This will be USF’s third NCAA tournament bid and the Bulls look to surge past the first round for only the second time — USF beat Auburn 3-1 in 2010.

When the game kicks off at 1 p.m., it will be USF’s third look at FGCU. The last meeting was a year ago inside Corbett where the Bulls emerged victorious, 1-0.

They will do it again on Saturday.