Young striker Sydny Nasello (above) leads the Bulls in the goals of the season with four goals. USF Athletics PHOTO
After beating Memphis on April 3, the USF women’s soccer team secured at least a share of the AAC regular season title and secured number 1 in the upcoming conference tournament to secure the right to host the event.
With a win against Cincinnati on Sunday, however, the Bulls (7-0-1, 7-0-0 AAC) can secure sole ownership of the regular season title and close an undefeated regular season with a potentially perfect 8-. 0 recording in conference game.
The only minor flaw in USF’s eight-game resume this season is a two-hour overtime tie in a non-conference matchup against UF on February 27th. Other than that, the Bulls were practically perfect.
After her team’s win over Memphis, coach Denise Schilte-Brown didn’t want to get too far, but she touched her thoughts on the pre-season final.
“I didn’t want to think too much about this game,” said Schilte-Brown. “We talked about how we prepare for the pitch and what we can get out of the game [against Cincinnati]. ”
The Gettler Stadium, where the Bearcats (4-4, 3-3 AAC) play, features FieldTurf as opposed to the grass that the Corbett Stadium uses.
The bearcats who already have a feel for the turf are likely to give them at least a slight edge over the bulls, but that’s just one of the layers of this matchup.
Cincinnati, currently ranked fourth in the conference, will almost certainly play the game with the utmost urgency.
Due to COVID-19-related security measures, the tournament has been reduced from six to just four participants for this season. If the Bearcats want to make sure they don’t fall out of the playoff picture, they have to beat the bulls.
If Cincinnati loses, UCF will open the door to sneak in if the Knights can claim a win against Houston.
Realizing the fact that the Bearcats will desperately want this win, Schilte-Brown pointed to the difficult tasks Cincinnati poses that should help the Bulls down the line.
“I think Cincinnati are a really good team and they have to win the game,” said Schilte-Brown. “And they present us with a lot of really good challenges that I think will develop for us in the conference tournament.
“I think we look forward to maybe trying a few more things, but just the challenge of playing on grass at Cincy and the style of play [will be difficult]. ”
Ultimately, Schilte-Brown wants her team to use this game as an opportunity to grow and get better before the conference tournament kicks off on April 15th.
“There are so many great opportunities for us to get better at this game. I think we’re excited about it,” she said.
The Bulls and Bearcats start April 11th at 1pm at Gettler Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.