One-upping USF men’s soccer, that added 15 new players to the roster in the offseason, USF women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown welcomed a total of 16 newcomers to the 2017 roster, while returning only 12 women.
As a result, the Bulls, after a season ending in a loss to UConn in the semi-finals of the AAC tournament, will rely on young talent and senior goalkeeper Kat Elliot to push for a post-season run in 2017.
Voted to finish fourth in the conference by the AAC coaches poll, USF begins conference play on Sept. 21 at East Carolina and closes the season at UCF on Oct. 27.
Before conference play even begins, USF will face off against No. 6 North Carolina, Ohio State and No. 7 Florida. All three teams played in last year’s NCAA tournament, with the Tar Heels making it the furthest of the three – losing in the tournament’s semi-finals.
“It’s a really young class, I think maybe my biggest freshman class since my first year here,” Schilte-Brown, who’s entering her 11th year as USF’s head coach, said at the Fall Sports Media Day. “We have big personalities in the returning group, so they’re managing that (newcomer) group fine and helping us with them.”
One of those returners, sophomore forward Evelyne Viens, is coming off a historic freshman campaign where she tied the school record with 16 goals in 19 games.
Voted as the AAC preseason conference player of the year entering the season, Viens has already found the back of the net three times in the Bulls first two regular season wins over Charlotte and American University.
“We have a lot more difficult schedule than we did to open the year last year,” Viens said on possibility of recreating last year’s 8-0 start to the season. “It’s going to be hard playing against UNC and Ohio State, but we’re ready for that. We played against the (National Women’s Soccer League team) Orlando Pride last year and did well so I think we’ll be fine.”
“I’m excited for every conference game… I want to beat every team,” Viens said. “But especially UConn.”
Viens, who failed to score in two appearances against the Huskies, will have to wait until Oct. 22 for her shot at redemption when No. 12 UConn comes to Corbett stadium in the next to last game of the season.