By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Going above and beyond was something the USF women's soccer team had to do a lot of last season.
The Bulls' schedule was packed with overtime games that took a toll on players from a physical standpoint. Fitness certainly won't be a problem for head coach Denise Schilte-Brown's crew this season after the Bulls spent the offseason pushing their bodies to the limit during training.
About 12 players stayed in Tampa to work with strength coaches Monday through Friday while a trio of players competed in summer leagues. All-Big East Preseason Team member Demi Stokes and Taylor Patterson played for the Vancouver Whitecaps, while Cara Patterson played for a team in Colorado.
"We had a great, dedicated group of girls that trained either competitively on their respective teams out of the state or were here every day training with our strength coaches. It's prepared us and we're off to a good start," Schilte-Brown said.
Tough workouts have continued during fall camp and last weekend was a prime example. The Bulls went through a pair of two-hour sessions and finished Saturday off with a six-hour training session led by Navy Seals.
"We wanted to get out of our comfort zone and just see how miserable we could be and how great we could be within the misery," Schilte-Brown said. "I think that's a good weigh in of who we're going to be like and who is going to be there for each other. Leaders emerged, freshmen stepped up and it was great."
USF's fitness level will be tested this week when the team plays home exhibition games against Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and Jacksonville on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
"I think we want to really focus on the team coming together offensively and defensively on the few things that we've touched on," Schilte-Brown said. "Are they working together to accomplish those tasks or is it only individuals that are accomplishing them? Are the right combinations on the field?"
One thing USF coaches don't have to worry about is players going full speed on the field for an extended period of time thanks to a beneficial offseason.
"We're so fit now that we can just get right into it, tactically and technically, and not worry about getting our fitness level up to par," Taylor Patterson said.