The first exhibition game of the 2018-19 season was a 6-1 blowout victory for USF women’s soccer over Stetson University on Wednesday evening.
Junior star Evelyne Viens showed she’s already in mid-season form and recorded 2 goals and an assist. Her goals came in the 3rd and 6th minutes, and bagged her assist in the 24th minute. She got a surprising amount of time on the field for an exhibition game in one half of what appeared to be a two striker formation.
Freshman Sydny Nasello almost equaled Viens’ performance with two of her own goals. Her first was off the Viens assist in the 24th. Her second was a late second half run down the left side, and an absolute blast to the near post. She showed a few moments of creative brilliance along the sideline as well, managing to split two defenders at one point from an extremely tight situation.
Rounding out the scoring, Aubrey Megrath had a loose corner fall right to her feet to (literally) walk into the net during the second half. Senior Jordan Tuttle scored USF’s sixth of the night with a bomb from the right side of the box. Stetson got on the score sheet in the second half with a short free kick that was just nudged over an already sliding Farquharson.
“It was fun to see the freshmen play in live play,” head coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “We play at practice all the time but it’s not the same. I liked their maturity tonight. I thought they played beyond their years and that was nice. We were trying a lot of new things.”
An interesting point was goalkeeper Rikki Farquharson, who played the full 90-minute game. Some expected to see freshman keeper Sydney Martinez, but Schilte-Brown said the decision to keep Farquharson in was more to do with the back line and less to do with making saves or having the starting job locked down.
“We work with a back four to get used to one goalkeeper, because in a game like this, they’re somewhat limited with the amount of time they might see the ball. Switching, they wouldn’t get much time with their back four. (Farquharson and Martinez) are both doing great, I don’t have a one and a two. I have two really good goalkeepers, and Sydney will absolutely get time in the next one.”
The team returned almost their entire lineup from last season, but brought in two freshmen in the starting lineup. One was Nasello, and the other was defender Mia Palango. While still an exhibition game, it’s worth noting those two cracked the starting lineup, which saw largely the same lineup from last year.
Also worth noting was freshman defender Olivia Cooke. She put out several fires with excellent tackles that would have otherwise resulted in one-on-one situations for Stetson.
For the Bulls overall, they came out extremely attack-minded. There were many times where both strikers and both wingers were sitting on Stetson’s back line (by design or by accident is currently unknown at the time) giving the appearance USF was playing a 4-2-4. While still preseason, the next two games should give a better indication as to how the Bulls intend to play this season.
The Bulls go on the road to face #5 South Carolina before returning home on Monday for the final preseason game vs Washington.