Trio of Bulls earn weekly AAC soccer honors

Senior midfielder Katie Kitching scored the game winner in the 105th minute in USF’s victory over Memphis on Sunday, her first goal of the season. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Both USF soccer teams secured conference victories against Memphis over the weekend, and the AAC recognized three players from each squad in the latest weekly awards. 

On the women’s side, junior goalkeeper Sydney Martinez was named AAC Goalkeeper of the Week for the first time this season. She earned her 20th career shutout in the Bulls’ (9-3-2, 4-1-1 AAC) 1-0 double-overtime win over the No. 14 Tigers on Sunday, making six saves. Martinez also leads the team in minutes played.

Freshman defender Vivanne Bessette was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week, also for the first time this campaign. She has started all but one of the team’s 14 games so far and played all 105 minutes against Memphis. The Montreal native was one of four Bulls named to the 2021 Preseason All-Conference Team.

As a nod to her game-winning goal in overtime, senior midfielder Katie Kitching was named to the AAC Honor Roll this week. It was her first goal of the 2021 season and sixth of her USF career. Kitching has played in every game this season and started seven. 

The men’s team (4-6-1, 2-4 AAC) also celebrated three honorees. Junior goalkeeper Kazuna Takase retained his place as AAC Goalkeeper of the Week, earning the honor for the second straight week and third time in his career. He made a season-high eight saves in the team’s 2-1 win over Memphis at Corbett Stadium on Friday.

Takase’s fellow countryman, freshman midfielder Shion Soga, also earned plaudits in the form of AAC Offensive Player of the Week. Soga scored the first goal and assisted the second in Friday’s win. He leads the team in assists with four.

Freshman defender Ben Kaplan scored the game-winning goal and was named AAC Rookie of the Week as a result. He rose above the defense for a headed goal from Soga’s free kick, the first of his collegiate career. Kaplan has played in just four games this season, but has proved to be an impactful option off the bench for coach Bob Butehorn.

Both teams are back in action this week. The women host Cincinnati on Thursday as they look to maintain pole position in the conference standings. The men welcome SMU to Corbett Stadium on Friday in a battle for fourth place, the final tournament spot. 

Both games are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.