Draped in pink accessories — from headbands to shoelaces — USF held Tulsa scoreless in the team’s annual pink-out game Sunday afternoon.
Less than two minutes into the match, sophomore forward Evelyne Viens maneuvered past three Tulsa defenders, then poked in the first of three goals for USF in its 3-0 win at Corbett Stadium.
The win was USF’s third in a row and was the second time in as many games it scored a goal in the game’s first four minutes.
“It’s putting years back on my life,” USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said about scoring early in back-to-back games. “Two games getting on the board early, and it isn’t just the scoring. Statistically, that’s a big time in the game to capitalize, and I think they did a really good job.”
Though Viens’ goal would’ve been enough for USF to beat Tulsa (3-9-2, 1-3), the Bulls added an insurance goal in the 25th minute when midfielder Kylee Burroughs whipped in a cross that deflected off a Golden Hurricane defender and into the back of the net.
Then, already holding a two-goal lead, the Bulls dominated possession in the second half, peppering Tulsa goalkeeper Courtney McKeon with 12 shots — many of which were saved by a diving McKeon.
“We could not get through their wall of people (in the second half),” Schilte-Brown said. “It was like there was an invisible wall for a while there.”
In the 70th minute, however, freshman forward Leah Ferlin broke through the figurative wall, scoring on a curled shot from 25 yards out with Viens being credited with the assist. The goal was Ferlin’s second of the season as she’s helped spark the Bulls’ offense since she returned from an injury four games ago.
“She’s so dangerous,” Schilte-Brown said. “She can shoot right foot, left foot, she can score with her head and she’s willing to work hard. We have Evelyne, who is an incredible goal scorer, but if all of the attention is on her, it’s hard to be productive.
“With everyone else contributing, it really opens up and she gets to be dynamic. Aubrey is, Sabrina is, Leah is, Kylee is and we really have some depth in that area.”
The win was USF’s third in a row and third in conference play. Next up the team will travel to Dallas to face SMU (5-3-3, 0-1-1) on Thursday.
In addition to having a solid conference win, the pink-out game for breast cancer awareness went beyond more than soccer.
“We just talked about honoring that game, keeping our heads and fighting hard,” Schilte-Brown said. “Keeping that mental toughness that all cancer patients must go through that we can never understand or fathom.”
In addition to the players wearing pink, a majority of the 489 in attendance at Corbett Stadium did as well. Every fan was given a pink rally towel that read “Kick out Cancer” upon entry and had the option to participate in a silent auction that included items such as a ball signed by every USF women’s soccer player and a pink replica jersey.
All proceeds from the auction went to Moffitt Cancer Center or other breast cancer organizations.
“Every time we do this game, it’s also a mental anguish because it’s something that we just need to continue to battle,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think breast cancer hits everyone, and everyone knows someone who has survived or died and it was really hard.”