TAMPA - In a weekend that already had a landmark USF win, the University of South Florida women's soccer team picked up one of its own as the Bulls knocked off preseason BIG EAST favorite West Virginia, 2-1, at the USF Soccer Stadium Sunday afternoon.
"Today was a great win for our program," said Bulls head coach Denise Schilte-Brown. "We have had some chances to beat some good teams but couldn't close it out so it was good to close the match out. For us to beat a program like West Virginia really gives the team a lot of confidence."
USF, now 4-4-2 on the season and 1-1-1 in the BIG EAST, didn't waste any time getting on the board as Boo Eagle would give the Bulls an early 1-0 lead. Set up by a foul drawn by fellow freshman Taylor Patterson on the left wing, Eagle would tally her first collegiate goal as she corralled a free kick by Noelle Pineiro and beat a diving Kerry Butler with a left footed blast. The assist was Pinerio's second of the season. The goal was the earliest goal scored in the season as it came just three minutes and eight seconds into the match.
The Bulls would hold the 1-0 lead heading into halftime as WVU used the wind at their backs to keep the ball on the USF side of the field. Although USF was up 1-0, WVU would hold a lead on shots on goal with a 5-3 advantage and 7-1 advantage on corners, but senior goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi and the USF defense would squash any scoring opportunities for WVU.
The second half would see USF even out the time of possession a bit as USF was able to use the long ball to keep the WVU attack at bay. USF would give themselves a little more breathing room in the 78th minute, and as it turned out they would need it.
This time it would be Pineiro who would take a touch pass from fellow sophomore Chelsea Klotz, the team's second leading scorer, from just inside the box and send it home past a diving Butler to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead with just under 12 minutes to play in the match. The goal was Pineiro's team-leading sixth goal. It is the most goals scored since former Bull Lindsay Brauer scored nine goals in 2006. The helper was the first of Klotz's career. USF was just the second team all season to score multiple goals against Butler.
The second goal would prove to be the game-winner as WVU would finally capitalize on one of its 10 corner kicks. After weathering the first two corners in a series of three corners, midfielder Carolyn Blank connected with a header past Lofton-Malachi to break up the shutout and cut the lead in half off the corner from Nicole Mailloux in the 83rd minute.
WVU, which has made nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, raced feverishly to score the equalizer in the final seven plus minutes, but Blank's goal would be all for the Mountaineers as USF shut the door on any scoring opportunities for WVU. After giving up five shots on goal in the first half, the USF defense only allowed two shots on Lofton-Malachi, who end with six saves on the afternoon.
"Our athletic program has put together a lot of momentum with so many of our teams playing at a high-level. It is great to keep things rolling and cap off such a great weekend for our athletic program" added Schilte-Brown.
USF will now look to keep its unbeaten streak going as the Bulls will continue their longest homestand of the season when they host a pair of BIG EAST Conference foes in Seton Hall on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and then Rutgers on Sunday, October 4 at 1 p.m.
Match Notes Boo Eagle's goal was earliest the Bulls have scored this season, just 3:08 into the match... The earliest before today was Valorie O'Brien's goal against Austin Peay at 18:51... The goals were the first ever scored in four matches against the Mountaineers... Mallori Lofton-Malachi made her 47th consecutive start... Lofton-Malachi now has 56 saves on the season and a goals-against average of 0.99... Only two Bulls played the entire 90 minutes today, as Eagle joined Lofton-Malachi in going the distance... USF is now 4-2 when scoring first and 3-1-1 at home, having won its last two at the USF Soccer Stadium... Today's attendance was 267.