By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Give technology the assist for helping the USF women's soccer team land one of its most important scorers this season.
Olivia Chance sent the Bulls to the Big East semis with a PK goal close to a year after getting to know all about USF through Skype. The Tauranga, New Zealand native got connected with head coach Denise Schilte-Brown through her national team coach and the Internet experience proved to be a great one for everyone involved.
"It was special and I felt I got to know Olivia and her family maybe a little bit better than I did with a lot of my American recruits because you get to put a face to the voice and kind of feel like you're in their home," Schilte-Brown said.
Chance admitted she was a little nervous about the process at first, but she found it easy to open up to Schilte-Brown and the rest of her family.
"They were very easy to talk to," Chance said.
Only three or four Skype sessions were all Chance needed to feel comfortable about making a long trip to Tampa.
"It felt really natural and I'm really glad that we ventured into Skype recruiting with her," Schilte-Brown said.
Chance's production on the field has made the story extra special. Three of her four goals during the regular season were game-winners and her greatest score to date came Sunday afternoon at Corbett Stadium. USF was in a 3-3 tie with Louisville at the end of the shootout when Chance set up in front of the box and booked the Bulls' trip to Storrs, Conn., for a Friday meeting with Georgetown.
"We saved her for last because we knew she could handle the pressure," Schilte-Brown said.
USF coaches had a ton of faith in Chance because she's been in similar situations in the past. Despite being only 19 years old, Chance has played for New Zealand's U-17 and U-20 teams, and she was with the national team as recently as this season for a World Cup trip to Japan.
"The national team is a good buildup and it was great for me to come here because I felt more confident playing with older girls," she said.
Watch chance work on the field and you'll come to find that she's quite comfortable competing against anyone despite being a 5-foot-4 attacker.
"She has kind of a small body, but she's a big person," Schilte-Brown said. "We bring in powerful women to speak to the girls and I'm always encouraging them to be confident and kind of take the world by storm. When you talk to Olivia, you kind of instantly go, 'OK, she'll do it.'"
Schilte-Brown's confidence in Chance started to grow when the two found that they shared the same type of competitive attitude towards the game all the way back in their Skype days.
"I want to win and so do they. I knew it was going to be a great mix," Chance said.
The combination has worked very well so far and Schilte-Brown is excited about what the future holds for Chance in green and gold.
"I think it's the tip of the iceberg. I think she's going to be better," Schilte-Brown said. "I think a lot of teams are going to be surprised about how good she's going to be because there's even more to Olivia than you've already seen."