The USF women’s soccer team won the AAC regular season title with a 1-0 win over C. on Friday evening in Tampa.
Junior striker Evelyne Viens (who else?) scored her 18th goal of the season in the 82nd minute to clinch the game. It was an incredibly tight affair all night, with plenty of chances on both ends and a hair raising final 10 minutes.
The nation's leading scorer does it again! @USFWSOC's Evelyne Viens notches her 18th goal of the season to give the Bulls the lead. Now 8 minutes away from a #AmericanWSOC title! pic.twitter.com/5HfXF1CYeA— American WSoccer (@American_WSoc) October 27, 2018
It was a beautiful day for Senior Night that saw 6 Bulls honored. Kelli Burney, Hannah Seybold, Jordan Tuttle, Cassidy Kallenborn, Grace Adams, and Jordyn Smith were all honored before the game. Burney also got the start in one of the tightest contested games USF played this season.
On the stat sheet, USF appeared to dominate, with 13 shots to C.’s 8. However, it wasn’t indicative of how close the game really was. Yes, USF held the edge for most of the night, generally not allowing C. many good chances.
C, however, flipped the tables on USF at the end of the first half, pressing the Bulls into making mistakes in the midfield that were largely absent during the rest of the game. The golden chance for C. came late in the first half, when Knights striker Stefanie Sanders found space on Burney and rocketed a shot off the post.
“(Going into halftime) I said you guys aren’t playing very good,” said Coach Denise Schilte-Brown after the game. “I said you ran the table at the beginning, but your passing is off, your feet are off. Midfielders need to play quicker. (C.) was trying to trap us in the middle of the field, waiting for us to cough up balls. We weren’t going to stop playing the way we play, just because they were trying to press us. We just needed to be better at that moment, and then we felt like the (C.) centerbacks were reading out combination plays. So we stuck another forward higher so that we could kind of eliminate their anticipation.”
“Both teams were missing so many balls (at the end of the first half) that it was a kick-and-run game,” said Viens after the game. “So we changed the top of the formation. Coach game into the tent and decided to change some stuff and focus on what was working best. Such a great job tonight.”
The adjustments made by USF clearly worked, because the Bulls were sharp as you like coming out of the break. Whereas USF looked a step behind making plays at the end of the first half, it was C. that was struggling to stay in the game. Viens nearly got a goal around the 55th minute when the C. back line almost turned the ball over to her.
That play would generally set the tone for the second half. USF seemed to want it just a tad more than C., and provided most of the pressure through the second half. Only after Viens scored the lone goal of the night did C. find the desperation energy to start firing at the USF net. However, the Bulls defending remained stout and kept C. off the board.
“I think it’s wonderful for multiple reasons,” said Schilte-Brown about winning the regular season title. “We get to be at home (during the conference tournament), I didn’t want to share the trophy, but I also feel like the regular season is the most difficult champion to be, because you have to win all the games and it’s a long road to get there.”
Freshman forward Sydny Nasello also had a fantastic game, causing problems on the left wing all night. While she didn’t end up on the scoresheet, Nasello proved herself to be a major threat on her side, which helped open up space for the rest of the USF offense.
Also notably along the back line, junior left back Bri Blethen had a note worthy game. She kept C. well under wraps while contributing to the USF attack regularly. Freshman Olivia Cooke also had a decent day right back, starting in the place of a slightly banged up Sabrina Wagner.
Freshman goaltender Sydney Martinez showed continued signs maturity after a very rough game vs Houston over a week ago. After a solid bounce-back game vs SMU, the freshman held her nerve vs a quality C. attack and let nothing spill out of her grasp.
The AAC Women’s Soccer Conference Tournament
The final qualifiers for the AAC conference tournament were, in order, USF, Memphis, C., SMU, ECU, and Temple. USF and Memphis go into the conference tournament as the #1 and #2 seeds respectively, and therefore get a bye in the first round.
Wednesday, Oct. 31, C. plays Temple at 4:00, SMU will play ECU at 7:00. The semifinals will be held Friday, Nov. 2. Winner of C./Temple plays Memphis at 4:30, winner of SMU/ECU plays USF at 7:00. The final will be held Sunday, Nov. 4th at 2:00, broadcast on ESPNU.