The USF women’s soccer team opened the 2017-18 athletic season with a 2-2 preseason draw against Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday night at Corbett Stadium.
The game was played in three 30-minute periods, instead of the usual 45 minute halves. The Bulls quickly found themselves 2-0 down after a howler from senior keeper Kat Elliott and a defensive error. In the 8th minute, an Eagles shot went between Elliott’s hands as she went to catch the ball for the opening goal. FGCU extended their lead in the 20th minute, heading home a cross that found Kat out of position to make the save.
Andrea Hauksdottir finally answered for the Bulls in the 24th minute with a thunderous freekick from just outside the box. After being dragged down by an FGCU defender, she smashed the ball into the far side netting, almost unsavable for any college keeper. The first period ended before the Bulls had a chance to score a second.
Head Coach Denise Schilte-Brown made wholesale changes to the team during the second period, bringing in several freshmen. No goals were scored in the second period, but several players stood out for USF. Sophomore Aubrey Megrath played on the left and right wing and was dangerous on both sides. Freshman forward Kylee Burroughs made her first appearance during the second period as a striker, and made several excellent runs during her time on the field. Freshman defender Chyanne Dennis also made her first appearance in a USF kit during the second period at center back. Her size and speed set her apart of the rest of the back line. Both Burroughs and Dennis made appearances in the third period with what appears to be the first team.
Most notably, freshman Leah Ferlin played the first and third periods, when the team was loaded with starters from the 2016 season. She scored her first goal as a Bull in the 71st minute, heading home a cross from fellow freshman Sabrina Wagner to equalize (shame the goal won’t count on official stats, it was excellent from both ladies). The Bulls would repel FGCU for the rest of the game to keep the score 2-2. Sophomore Evelyne Viens had a quiet game, unable get going against a strong FGCU back line.
After the game, Coach Schilte-Brown commented she was pleased by the performance, but added there could be “drastic” improvement in tactics by players before the regular season. On the freshmen, “I thought there was a lot of great freshman surprises out there and overall I was really, really happy with the freshmen,” while noting later that she wanted to see the mistakes now rather than further into the season. She also commented that the rotation of players in the third period of play was likely not going to become a regular thing for the Bulls, attributing the heavy rotation to tired legs after hard preseason practices.
The Bulls return to action this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. for another friendly against Troy at Corbett Stadium.