The women’s soccer team played a brave 90 minutes against the #4 North Carolina Tar Heels, but fell 4-2 after two second half-goals by UNC.
The game featured three penalties, two for UNC and one for USF. The Tar Heels started the scoring in the 17th minute when a USF defender got tangled with a UNC striker while both players were going for a cross. Kat Elliott picked the correct side, but couldn’t dive fast enough to save Taylor Otto’s first of three goals.
USF got the next penalty in the 21st minute. Andrea Hauksdottir took a slow run-up to allow UNC keeper Samantha Leshnak to commit to the left before rolling the ball to the right to equalize. North Carolina took the lead again in the 38th when Morgan Goff found Otto one-on-one with Elliott, and Otto easily scored her second. Evelyne Viens responded two minutes later with a beauty, beating a charging Leshnak to a ball outside the box before chipping her from 18 yards out.
The Bulls couldn’t maintain possession to save their lives, yet continually tried to play out of the back (relying on the defenders to start the attack up the field, instead of kicking the ball deep to the forwards). It was clear that the Tar Heels were athletically superior to USF, and gave the Bulls no time to work. Their continuous harassment of USF led to a chance for Alessia Russo in the 74th minute. Her long shot crossed the face of goal and caught Kat Elliott napping for the game-winning goal.
Elliott’s day only got worse. In the 85th minute, she grabbed a ball outside her six-yard box, and threw the ball across the face of her own net to defender Kelli Burney. However, Taylor Otto was lurking, and the ball was poor from Kat. Burney misplayed the ball and Otto took possession. Burney ended up fouling Otto in the box to prevent a shot, but for denying a goal-scoring opportunity she was shown a red card and sent off. Otto then buried the penalty anyway for a hat trick.
Most of the team played very well, though their insistence on trying to play out the back led to a lot of midfield turnovers by a better team. Evelyne Viens and Aubrey Megrath both made several great, long runs down the field and were as gassed as McGregor was in the 8th round. The defense played well, denying decent looks from UNC, despite the Tar Heels whipping off 25 shots to USF’s six. For being athletically outclassed, the Bulls had a great chance to come away with a result until some more errors by the keeper, which are getting increasingly common.
The Bulls travel to Ohio State next Sunday before returning home against Mississippi State on Thursday, September 7. It’s the scarf giveaway game for the women’s soccer game. Get here early -- this is usually the favorite giveaway of the season.