Two second-half goals powered USF women’s soccer’s thrilling 2-1 upset win over No. 21 Gonzaga on Sunday at Corbett Stadium.
This is the first time in four years the Bulls (5-4-1) have won a match over a Top 25 ranked team.
In the first half, South Florida was only able to maintain 29% ball possession compared to the Bulldogs’ (7-2-1) 71%.
The Bulls struggled to make opportunities in the first half due to the Bulldogs’ intricate defensive style of play, which was something coach Denise Schilte-Brown noticed before halftime.
“Instead of playing safe and going longer, we kept trying to play underneath them,” Schilte-Brown said. “They set a trap and we just played into the trap. That’s [what] the halftime [talk was about] – what are the solutions when we get stuck on that side?”
During the break, Schilte-Brown and her coaching staff analyzed Gonzaga’s plays in the first half and shifted their focus to develop a strategy where the Bulls would work around the Bulldogs’ strong players.
After discussing it with her players, the new plan proved effective for the green and gold less than 10 minutes upon returning to the field.
In the 48th minute, senior forward Peyton Vincze opened up the scoreboard after ripping a shot into the bottom right of the goal, assisted by graduate student forward Kouri Peace. It was Vincze’s second goal of the season.
Shortly after, Peace found the back of the net with a header in the 50th minute. She claimed her first assist and recorded a career-high of three points in a game.
Last Thursday, South Florida faced Charlotte in a 0-0 draw where it had its would-be goal bounced off the bottom of the crossbar twice. Since it was not clear cut, it was revoked by the referee.
Peace said the moment felt rewarding after her goal-scoring drought the past couple of games, with the last goal she scored being on Aug. 24 against Alabama A&M.
“Coming out of that locker room for the second half, we were ready. We knew if we went hard in the first five minutes we would be able to capitalize. We did that as a team and I’m really proud of everyone,” Peace said.
“Definitely being able to score [and] gaining more confidence is going to make me feel [and] play better. I do as much as I can to help my team win,” Peace said.
Only one goal came from the Bulldogs, shortly after the two from South Florida in the 52nd minute. The Bulls maintained their one-goal lead over the Bulldogs for the rest of the game.
South Florida totaled nine shots with four on goal, while the Bulldogs had 11 with eight on goal.
In previous matches, Schilte-Brown said she was satisfied with her team’s performance even though they were struggling to score goals.
Today, however, she said she was proud of how her team came out and dominated over the No. 21 team.
“When you’re playing a team like Gonzaga and you get opportunities, that’s not easy. [Gonzaga] was shutting a lot of teams out and scoring on them in the first 15 minutes,” Schilte-Brown said.
“I loved how the girls listened to us today. It’s so nice when a principle comes together.”
Up next, South Florida will continue its conference season play against ECU on Thursday at Corbett Stadium. Kickoff time is slated for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.