It was a quiet afternoon on Sunday, Oct. 14. A slight chill filled the air at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis, Tennessee. Leading the Bulls was Evelyne Viens, the star striker for the USF women’s soccer team who, at the time, had recently tied USF’s career goals record (41) set 18 years ago by Siri Nordby in 2000.
That afternoon, Viens weaved in between the Tigers’ defense, took aim, and fired a rocket past the Memphis goalkeeper in the 46th minute to seal the deal and establish herself as the top goalscorer in USF women’s soccer history.
Despite reaching a monumental landmark for the Bulls, Viens remains level-headed and is looking towards the rest of the season.
“I knew that it was going to come,” she said. “We have so much more soccer to come and we are not even close to being done. We need to go one step at a time.”
Exactly one week after she set USF’s career scoring record, Viens set USF’s single-season scoring record with two goals against SMU, surpassing her own record from freshman year of 16 goals. She now has 45 career goals and leads the nation with 17 goals this season.
Still, Viens wasn’t phased by her record-breaking performances and wants to keep the focus on the team.
“If I score every game I give the team a chance to win. It’s not about the record, it’s more about getting the win,” she said. “I don’t play for [the record] I play for winning championships.”
After a breakout freshman season, Viens has shown no signs of slowing down. Since breaking two records in the span of a week, she has proven herself to be one of the best players in USF history. But the question remains — how did she become a menace to goalkeepers across the nation?
On a recruiting trip to see players compete in Canadian National Training Centers, Viens caught the eyes of an assistant coach even though she wasn’t affiliated with the Canadian National Team. Coach Denise Schilte-Brown said Viens was the best player they saw the entire trip.
“We were excited about everything about [Viens],” Schilte-Brown said. “Our first conversation went really well. She was interested in exploring the idea [of coming to USF] — I don’t know if she was sold on it — then when she came down, there was a good feeling between her and the coaching staff…She’s very competitive and brave.”
Viens came to deliver, scoring her first goal in the third game of the 2016 season and then registering her first hat trick just three games later. The goals didn’t seem to stop that season as she tied the record for goals scored in a season (16). Even as a freshman, it was clear that Viens was here for a purpose: to win.
She kept her goal-scoring form going into the 2017 season by scoring two goals against Charlotte in the season opener — she went on to rack up 12 goals and nine assists, with one of those goals being the one that sent the Bulls to their first-ever AAC championship against rivals UCF. The Bulls won the championship last season in penalty kicks, proving they were a force to be reckoned with. Viens solidified herself as the real deal by topping nearly every statistics sheet.
Schilte-Brown has been more than impressed with Evelyne’s consistency and constant improvement throughout her career.
“[Viens] is a true professional and it [isn’t] easy to keep her off the score sheet,” Schilte-Brown said after Viens bagged four goals in USF’s 11-0 victory against Florida College in September.
Even with her accolades, Viens is a team player above all else.
“I prefer to see the team winning than having my name next to a record,” Viens said. “Anyway, records are there to be broken and it is unfair to put just one name because I have accomplished it with my team.”
Viens’ modesty on the field has carried over to the locker room as she has become a source of inspiration for the whole team and a mentor to the younger players. One such player is freshman Sydney Nasello, who has also shown a keen eye for goal, racking up four goals and seven assists this season.
According to Schilte-Brown, Viens helped Nasello develop her own play style.
“[Nasello] had to find her way into [those] relationships with the powerhouses around her.” Schilte-Brown said. “You can’t feed [Viens] every time, you’ve got to take your chances yourself and [Viens] was encouraging Nasello to do that and I think now that relationship is getting to a really great place for the both of them.”
Despite her role as a team mentor, Viens also seeks ways to improve her play with support from the coaching staff, citing Schilte-Brown and assistant coach Iban Lopez as mentors that push her to be a prolific and consistent striker.
“[Schilte-Brown] and the coaching staff put us in a great environment and the team has an amazing team chemistry that it is easy to be part of,” Viens said. “You become family as soon as you come in.”
With the support of the coaching staff and her teammates, Evelyne has become one of the best USF soccer players to this date and has sparked rumors of what could be in her future.
Schilte-Brown, who played for the Canadian Women’s National Team, believes Viens has what it takes to play for her country on an international stage.
“It’s my opinion that she could be in the full team in Canada right now,” Schilte-Brown said. “I’m proud of her because her focus is us and here. She’s ready when she’s needed. But she never takes things for granted; she just puts her head down and works. I think that’s the kid that goes far. It’s about the here and now…she doesn’t lose sight of that.”
Viens remains focused on the Bulls, however.
“If I get my chance, I get my chance but it’s not something I think about.”
Her chance to play at the international level may come soon as this season’s efforts have already topped her statistics in the previous seasons. The Bulls have already qualified for the postseason tournament, but will play rival UCF to decide who will host the AAC tournament. USF is undefeated at Corbett Stadium this season.
“We know the rivalry between USF and UCF, but we are not thinking about them,” Viens said. “We are focusing on our game plan and being able to have a good start and implement our style of play. If we win, we host the conference championship and we want to be able to play at home for the conference tournament.”