GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The University of South Florida women's soccer team went toe to toe with the No. 7 Florida Gators in Gainesville but their upset bid would come up short as the Bulls could not hold a halftime lead and were victim to a pair of second half goals in their 2-1 loss Sunday afternoon at James G. Pressly Stadium.
"Today is a tough one to swallow,” said Bulls head coach Denise Schilte-Brown. "It was very well played match on both ends. We were in the match till the very end and to not come a way with a win is very disappointing."
The Bulls defense and senior goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi would weather an early attack with the Gators four shots on goal in the half successfully.
"They are a very good team and they put a lot of pressure on us early in the match," said Schilte-Brown."It took us a while to settle into the match, but Mallori was back there being Mallori. She kept us in the match until we were able to get our feet under us."
USF would make the most of their lone shot on goal in the first half, as the Bulls drew first blood in the last minute of the first half.
With 35 seconds remaining in the half, once again it would be sophomore Noelle Pineiro, who scored the game winner against FAU, providing an offensive spark of the bench for the Bulls. Pineiro would a take a feed from Brittany Pilon 10-yards out and send it home giving the Bulls a 1-0 lead heading into the half.
With a 1-0 lead, the Bulls tried to remain aggressive on the offensive end but the Gator's would take advantage of a free kick from 25 yards out to even the score at one. Pilon was whistled for a foul setting up the attempt from Lauren Hyde.
Hyde crossed up Lofton-Malachi to even up the match.
Sophomores Molly Stack and Valorie O'Brien would both test UF keeper Holly King with shots on goal but King was up to the challenge and turned the Bulls away.
It was apparent that there was no love lost between the two Sunshine State schools, as the game was physical throughout with both teams combining to be whistled for 24 fouls, 12 apiece.
The match remained knotted at one until the 79th minute as the Bulls would suffer a bit of bad luck as Florida's Tahnai Annis took an awkward deflection and skipped it by Lofton-Malachi to give the Gators a 2-1 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining.
With time not on their side, USF was unable to put any offensive threats together in the remaining minutes as the No. 7 team in the country survived the Bulls upset bid.
Lofton-Malachi deserved a better fate and would have if not for a few bad bounces, as the Philadelphia native made save after save for the Bulls. She made eight on the day playing all 90 minutes.
For the match, the Bulls were outshot 19-6. With the loss, the Bulls even their record at 1-1-0 on the young season.
"I think we learned a lot about ourselves today and we will capitalize on what we learned from today's match and get ready for next weekend," said Schilte-Brown.
Schilte-Brown and her Bulls will look to right the ship as they return to the friendly confines of USF Soccer Stadium for three straight matches beginning with two next weekend as part of the 2009 USF Invitational. The Bulls will host another in-state opponent as Florida International comes to Tampa on Friday, Sept. 5 with the match starting at 7:30 p.m. and then will host LSU on Sunday, Sept. 7 in a high noon showdown.
Season tickets for USF women's soccer games are $40 for adults and $20 for youths and senior citizens. Adult individual match tickets are $6, while youth and senior citizen admission is $3. All groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2.50 per ticket. All USF students will be admitted at no cost when they display their student ID.
Piniero's goal was her third career goal... USF falls to 0-3-0 against the Gators... After having her streak of 17 straight starts snapped in the season opener sophomore Molly Stack returned to the starting line-up, making her 18th career start in 19 matches... USF have not beaten a ranked opponent since the Bulls knocked off No. 23 Marquette in 2007... Despite blazing heat, Valorie O'Brien, Angelique Waller and Lofton-Malachi played the full 90 minutes... The match attendance was 1787.