The USF women’s soccer team opened the regular season with a 3-2 comeback win over Charlotte on Friday night in Tampa. Evelyne Viens, the 2016 American Athletic Conference rookie of the year, continued where she left off last season with a brace, including the game-winning goal on a volley from the middle of the box in the 103rd minute.
The Bulls went 2-0 down after just eight minutes. Charlotte’s Megan Greene scored both goals for the 49ers. In the 4th minute, she dribbled through several poor challenges (attempts to take the ball away) and scored past a charging Kat Elliott. Then in the 8th minute, she picked off a suicidal pass from center back Kelli Burney and slotted against Elliott in a one-on-one.
Chasing the game (trailing) almost immediately, USF slowly picked up the intensity through the match. Charlotte provided most of the pressure in the first half, but only managed one more shot in the first 45 minutes. After halftime, USF settled down into the more dominant form that they showed during last Saturday’s exhibition vs Troy. Right midfielder/wingback Yasmine Hall turned it on, consistently beating her marker to set up her teammates or taking the chances herself. Hall caught 49ers keeper Abby Stapleton off her line (too far from the goal to make a save) with a long-range effort, but it clanged off the corner of the frame.
The Bulls piled in 24 shots to Charlotte’s seven, and eventually rallied. Viens got her first of the season in the 55th minute, pounding a low drive inside the far post. USF then equalized at the death (at the very end of the game) thanks to a disastrous own goal. Wagner crossed the ball in right at the near post, and the Charlotte defender whiffed her attempt to clear it. The ball trickled across the line before keeper Abby Stapleton could fall on it. The game went to overtime tied at 2, setting up Viens’ heroics.
Coach Denise Schilte-Brown stayed with the 3-5-2 formation, but commented after the game that she’s not planning on letting the formation become the base formation for the rest of the season. Instead, she and her staff intend to plan formations based on opponent and form of players. Viens was more concerned with boosting the ratio of shots taken to goals scored, looking for places to improve despite continuing her breakneck pace to shatter USF records.
The women return to action this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. vs American University.