USF women’s soccer opens NCAA tournament with win over Albany

No. 20 USF beat Albany 5-1 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday. The Bulls will play against Florida State next week in Tallahassee. ORACLE PHOTO/SAM NEWLON

No. 20 USF women’s soccer started its NCAA tournament campaign with a dominating performance.

The Bulls defeated Albany 5-1 on Saturday night at Corbett Stadium after losing to Memphis on their home turf last weekend.

“We knew that we had to keep the intensity high,” Andrea Hauksdottir said.

The beginning of the first half was relatively quiet, however. The ball drifted in between both halves of the pitch with the Bulls and the Great Danes battling for possession.

The Bulls wouldn’t settle for level pegging and the stalemate was broken in the 25th minute. Evelyne Viens made a quick pass to Aubrey Megrath who slotted the ball away in the bottom right corner for the first goal of the match and her eighth goal of the season.

The Bulls doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Kelli Burney made a through pass to Evelyne Viens who accelerated past the Great Dane’s defense to fire the ball into the bottom left corner, securing her 20th goal this season and her 48th career goal.

Burney and Viens seemed to have a special connection all match long.

“[Burney’s passes] are always awesome,” Hauksdottir said. “[Viens] is so quick so it was just meant to be.”

The third goal for the Bulls came in the 52nd minute. A combined passing effort from Viens and Sabrina Wagner delivered the ball to Sydney Nasello in the penalty box who then fired a quick shot past Albany’s keeper Andrea Leitner.

USF was hungry for more and the fourth goal came in the 72nd minute of play. A cross from Sydney Nasello sailed over the Albany keeper to meet Leah Ferlin who headed it into the top left corner.

Albany answered the Bulls’ four-goal lead, scoring their only goal of the match in the 75th minute. Caroline Kopp delivered the ball from a cross to Savanah Courtney who headed it past Bulls keeper Sydney Martinez.

USF wasn’t done scoring goals as a late goal in the 84th minute. Senior Jordan Tuttle fired the ball past the keeper with an assist from Rebekah Anderson. The whole team celebrated with Tuttle after she scored her goal. Tuttle’s goal was an emotional one, considering this is her last season with the Bulls.

“It was like a team victory when she scored.” coach Denise Schilte-Brown said.

In the end, the Bulls managed to get the ‘W’, however, the match was no easy task.

“[Albany’s] discipline and their back four were hard to break down,” Schilte-Brown said. “it took us a while to break it down but I knew we would…that starting group kept that intensity high and I thought that we were in control of the game.”

Schilte-Brown also acknowledged the threat of Albany’s attacking three and commended the Bulls for containing the threat and creating a counter-attack.

“We knew their best players were their front three and we just wanted them to chase us,” she said. “I thought we did a good job with that for about twenty-five minutes and then we were able to find some momentum.”

USF will travel to play against No. 4 Florida State on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Schilte-Brown is optimistic about the matchup, despite FSU’s talent.

“I think the difference between a good USF team and a great USF team is the level of confidence,” Schilte-Brown said. “If they believe in themselves, then their feet are excellent.”