TAMPA - As her team opens its regular season tonight against Florida Atlantic, Coach Denise Schilte-Brown isn’t expecting to see many nerves from her squad.
“I don’t think so, I think they’re ready,” Schilte-Brown said after Thursday afternoon’s practice. “We don’t have too many freshmen on the field. Normally, I think, some of the nervousness for that first game is a freshman thing.”
That was evident in the squad’s practice, which finished with an entertaining game of soccer-volleyball. Sophomore Chelsea Klotz said she thought the team was feeling excited to get out onto the field against the Owls.
“There’s always nerves, but they’re more excitement nerves than scared nerves,” Klotz said.
PACKING A PUNCH: Klotz is expected to start in attack with Brittany Burt in South Florida’s opener, and is looking to build on a season where she led the Bulls with four goals.
South Florida’s principle struggle last season was putting the ball in the back of the net, scoring only 13 goals in 18 games, but Klotz is confident that the side will score more this season.
“This year with our set-up being different we have more goal-scoring opportunities, we have freshmen who are coming in and giving us a lot more scoring opportunities,” Klotz said. “We’re really excited, and we’re expected to score a lot, so that’s what we’re here to do.”
Schilte-Brown said pushing the focal point of the attack further up the field should help open up the attacking options for the Bulls, and create more space for the midfield to come forward.
“I feel that the goal-scoring opportunity is going to come from a full team effort to execute the offensive tactics that we have,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think we have a larger number of girls who can execute those things that we need done.”
IN SAFE HANDS: South Florida lost a pair of important defenders from last season in Jeanette Dyer and Melanie Sutherland, but Schilte-Brown thinks the players who will fill those roles should allow the Bulls to maintain their solid defensive record of a season ago.
“That’s never easy to bounce back from,” Schilte-Brown said. “But we do have Bahar Sansar, who is a standout player for us, play all spring and get that experience, so I feel confident that we’re going to do well in the back.”
Angelique Waller, who has played for the past two seasons, and Brittany Pilon, who like Sansar gained experience through the spring, will play in front of standout goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi.
The Bulls conceded 17 goals in 18 games last season, putting the Bulls in the top half of the Big East in goals against average. Lofton-Malachi’s play will be important to maintain that standard.
“She’s doing a really good job,” Schilte-Brown said. “She’s a good leader, and an excellent player, so we’re really excited about her.”
ROLL CAMERA: Schilte-Brown’s weekly show is now available at GoUSFBulls.com, where she discusses the opening weekend of the season, including the Bulls' trip to Gainesville to face No.10 Florida on Sunday afternoon.