The USF women’s soccer team suffered their first home defeat of the year at the most inopportune time with a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Memphis in the AAC Tournament Championship Game.
It was a humid afternoon in Tampa, with thunderstorms on the way. The game kicked off two hours earlier than originally planned, adding to the hour time warp of the first day of daylight savings time.
From the off, USF was under siege. In the 6th minute, senior defender Kelli Burney got caught biting too hard on a throw-in and saw the ball sail over her head. Memphis winger Tanya Boychuk was able to find striker Carissa Larisey alone in the box and USF was playing from behind.
The Bulls were struggling all day to get the ball out of the back and to move in the midfield. The Tigers looked a step faster physically and mentally the whole day, which was something that coach Denise Schilte-Brown said was a significant difference from USF’s 2-0 over Memphis earlier this season.
“They just caught us, pushing forward, on the counter. It went back to us taking too many touches everywhere else. We’re touch, touch, lose the ball, then they’re countering you. You have to keep it, make them move and chase you, be more productive in the final third, and we just weren’t successful at it today.”
“This team was waiting for you to lose the ball, then counter, and we knew that. Yet we created so many opportunities to lose the ball. It played into their favor.”
Memphis scored twice in the second half, both with long balls over the top. Both times, keeper Sydney Martinez tried to come out and knock the ball away, but was half a step too slow. The freshman sweeper keeper made the right play both times, but the speed of the Memphis attack was just a bit too much for her on this occasion.
The back line that was touted post-game after the semifinal was the culprit of the three goals today, getting caught up the field and out of position by the speedy Memphis attack. Pushing up the field in search of a goal in the second half, they reacted just too late on two long balls that allowed Memphis to put the game away.
The Bulls will have to bounce back hard in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With a 14-3 record, and a regular season conference title, the Bulls are in no danger of missing the tournament. The NCAA selection show will be on Monday at 4:30 on the NCAA website.