After losing in penalties in 2014 and 2015, the USF women’s soccer team overcame the dreaded penalty shootout to win their first ever American Athletic Conference tournament title. After a scoreless game, the Bulls prevailed 5-3 on penalties over C. on Sunday afternoon in Orlando.
In sharp contrast to the game played last Friday, where the Bulls were often defending for long stretches of time, the two teams were evenly matched and traded chances up and down the field for most of the game. Both teams would end the day with 17 shots, but USF would have more on frame than the Knights at 9-7. Sophomore Evelyne Viens had the best chance of the day for USF, coming down the left side and turning right into the 6-yard box. Her shot rolled along the goal line, but past the far post to be cleared out by a C. defender.
USF keeper Kat Elliott was the hero of the day and was named the defending player of the tournament for back-to-back clean sheets and making the game-saving stop on C. leading scorer Morgan Ferrara. She was called on to make several good saves during the run of play, and her defense was pushed to the limit during the second overtime period. The Knights piled on the pressure, but Kat and the defense held strong and sent the scoreless game to a shootout.
The shootout was a masterclass, each team trading penalties all the way to the fourth round. Both sets of fans were on their feet and making noise for their respective keepers. Finally, Kat made the save on Ferrara’s shot, and Kelli Burney buried the fifth penalty to claim the title for USF.
Viens was named offensive player of the tournament for her game-winning goal vs SMU and penalty shot. She along with Elliott, Burney, Aubrey Megrath, and Andrea Hauksdottir were named to the all-tournament team.
The Bulls claim an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the conference title. That, combined with a 13-win season should be enough to also secure them a home game to start the tournament. The Bulls discover their NCAA fate Monday at 4:30 on the NCAA website.