Nasello’s penalty kick lifts Bulls past North Florida

Junior forward Sydny Nasello (right) notched her first goal of the season in timely fashion, providing the game winner for the Bulls against the University of North Florida. ORACLE PHOTO/FRANCISCO ROSA

It took just over 102 minutes for the USF women’s soccer team to get the job done against the University of North Florida (UNF), but junior forward Sydny Nasello’s penalty kick pushed the Bulls past the Ospreys 1-0 in double overtime.

Nasello, who was tabbed as AAC Offensive Player of the Year last season, said she saw a sliver of an opening on the sequence that led to the UNF player knocking her over, eventually setting up the game winner.

“Honestly I could just see that I had her beat by just a slight edge, so I took my touch inside and she just happened to clip my ankles there,” Nasello said. “When you’re dribbling that’s more touches on the ball and obviously your legs are going to get a bit more tired, so I’m glad she did it, but I think if she didn’t I probably would’ve gotten a shot off after.”

In a game the Bulls mostly controlled from start to finish, coach Denise Schilte-Brown said she would’ve liked to see the match won earlier, but valued the extra time she had to put some of the team’s depth on the field in meaningful scenarios.

“Of course I think in regulation [it] would have been nice [to win], and we had our chances,” Schilte-Brown said. “[However], it was also nice to get the number of players that we did in and have a moment of growth. I mean, that’s what you’re looking for in this part of the season, moments of focus and development.

“I think North Florida had a really great plan, I think they executed their plan well, they were close to pulling it off, but I think Sydny drew that PK really well.”

Included in those players who got to see time on the pitch were freshmen Kendall Lincoln and Madison Schwartzenberger and sophomore Maya Alicea, all of whom Schilte-Brown highlighted.

“Maya Alicea is someone that we’re counting on this year to play good minutes, and we trust her. Schwartzenberger, we put her in other games but she’s never looked like the player we knew she could be, and tonight was the first time that she showed up in the game,” Schilte-Brown said. “Now she does this all the time in practice, and she’s gained our confidence in practice, but until you see it in the game, you don’t get more minutes, but tonight she did the job and we’re really proud of her. 

“Kendall Lincoln is special, we knew [that], that’s why we recruited her, for that tool that you saw tonight, and it was explosive. I wouldn’t want to be the defender dealing with her. She’s big, strong, fast, she’s fast with the ball, she’s fast without the ball, so [I was] excited to see her confidence rise and get that moment and shine.”

Although happy with the end result, Nasello made it known the path the Bulls took to get there wasn’t acceptable. USF led the shot margin between the teams 26-2, and had the advantage in shots on goal as well at 6-2, going into double overtime isn’t necessarily ideal, even with a win.

“That’s a storyline that we don’t want to create for ourselves this season, outplaying teams but not getting the result,” Nasello said. “We just need to be more clinical in our finishing, that way we’re not letting teams hang in there further than they need to, and we can finish them early to not stress out [later on] in the game.”

Next up for the Bulls is a 4 p.m. matchup against LSU on Thursday. The game against the Tigers will be streamed live on ESPN+.