Champa Bay brings home another trophy!
The No. 14 USF Bulls are your American Athletic Conference Tournament Champs for the second year in a row. After a 1-1 draw in Cincinnati to end the regular season last Sunday, the Bulls completed their unbeaten conference season by pitching two shutouts against ECU on Thursday and the Bearcats 4-0 on Saturday afternoon in their own stadium.
And it didn’t take long to take the lead.
AAC Offensive Player of the Year Sydny Nasello struck first with a goal in the 7’ - her fifth on the year - to put the Bulls up 1-0 early and never looked back. Nasello notched her second goal of the matinee in the 57’ when a foul in the box led to a USF penalty kick putting the Bulls up 2-0 in the second half. Seniors Paula Leblic and Meghan Cavanaugh closed the scoring in the 67’ and 79’ respectively to tally the most goals scored on the season for the Bulls.
USF came out striking on the offensive end leading in shots 24-8 - 10-3 on net - and holding possession for 62% of the match.
AAC Goalkeeper of the Year Sydney Martinez continued her outstanding season pitching her seventh shutout of the year and saving two shots in her 81’ of work. Sophomore Katrina Haarman saw her first action in net all season in the final 9’ of play in the championship game and collected one save to preserve the shutout.
The Bulls swept conference tournament awards with Sydny Nasello earning AAC Tournament Most Outstanding Offensive Player and Sydney Martinez earning Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Freshman Solveig Larsen, sophomore Rosalia Muino Gonzalez, and Leblic, join Nasello and Martinez on the All-Tournament Team.
It is USF’s third tournament crown - also winning in 2017 and 2019 - and fourth straight championship appearance. The Bulls had more shutouts than goals against all season. With the auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament, USF will find out their fate on Selection Monday, April 19 on who they will play in the opening round with all women’s and men’s soccer teams in the tournament playing in Cary, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.
USF ends the regular season and conference tournament 9-0-2. This is their first unbeaten regular season since 1998 when they went 15-1-3 (9-1-2) in Conference USA and lost to Marquette in the C-USA Tournament semifinals - their only loss on the year.