USF women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown and the No. 24 Bulls (2-1) are riding momentum from their 3-1 victory over Baylor last week as they prepare for a match against Detroit Mercy (1-2) on Thursday.
Schilte-Brown won’t let her team coast into the game unprepared and overconfident for their next match after beating a top-ranked program.
“I think the girls recognize some of the bigger names, so there’s going to be obvious hype toward that,” Schilte-Brown said. “With Detroit Mercy, the idea of those northeast teams, they bring a certain amount of grit to them and I think we’re certainly aware of that.”
Schilte-Brown cited potentially bumpy soccer fields and colder weather that’s not found at USF as sources of Detroit Mercy’s grit. She explained the characteristic in her own words, which is different from coach-to-coach.
“To me, grit is the part of your personality that finds ways to persevere,” Schilte-Brown said. “If you’re down three goals and the other team still has control of the game, there’s girls on your team that are still trying to solve problems … even though statistically it looks like there’s no comeback at this point.”
Grit isn’t all about playing hard in a game that seems lost though. Grit, Schilte-Brown said, is in full effect even when you’re the team who’s up three goals.
“Grit is that intrinsic drive,” she said. “I think some people have obvious extrinsic drive — championships, a win, more playing time — but intrinsic drive is grit. Where is the drive to have the character to just go get better every day and work hard to get team goals despite what the situation is?”
This time last week, the tables were flipped for Schilte-Brown as she and the Bulls took on a top-ranked Baylor team. She won’t let the Bulls overlook Detroit Mercy this week.
“Every team is due,” she said. “Even if they are struggling, at some point they’re going to put it all together and have a great game and you don’t know what day you guys are going to be the ones struggling.”
For the past two seasons, USF has received top-25 votes in both the United Coaches and the TopDrawer Soccer polls. After winning the AAC championship last season, Schilte-Brown and the Bulls have become a nationally respected team.
Some might view the Bulls’ recent ranking as a target on the team’s back with opponents having an extra motivation to beat the Bulls as a ranked opponent. Schilte-Brown sees the ranking as a sign of respect for the women’s soccer program at USF.
It’s not necessarily a target on our back,” she said. “No opponent comes in thinking you’re an easy game. They never underestimate you. They’ll sometimes play differently to beat you … I think it wouldn’t matter where we go, people would have respect for the program and will not take us lightly.”
The Bulls plan to have their grit on full display Thursday at 7 p.m. when they host Detroit Mercy at Corbett Stadium.