Sunday, August 30, 2009

Colleges: No.7 Florida rallies past Bulls

GAINESVILLE – South Florida’s womens soccer team had to face two opponents on Sunday afternoon.

Defeating No.7 Florida for the first time in school history was hard enough, but to do it with key members of the team hobbled by a stomach virus proved too much, as second half goals by Lauren Hyde and Tahnai Annis gave the Gators a deserved 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon at James G. Pressly Stadium.

Florida (3-0-0) came out strongly from the start, peppering Mallori Lofton-Malachi’s goal with shots as the Bulls struggled to possess the ball in the first 20 minutes.

But gradually the Bulls (1-1-0) came into the game, and began to string some passes together to quell the Gators' pressure. The Bulls were rewarded in the final minute of the first half, when after a Chantelle Goodson free kick from the left was only half-cleared, Brittany Pilon flicked the ball back into the penalty area from the right, finding Noelle Pineiro in space near the penalty spot.

Pineiro controlled, and fired a left-footed shot low into the right corner of the net, giving the Bulls the lead. Pineiro’s goal was the first by USF in a regular season game against Florida.

“For the first 20 minutes they had us on the ropes,” USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “And instead of reacting in a negative way by playing an ugly style of soccer, I thought the girls adjusted and figured out the game, learned how to defend it, and then started playing soccer to beat them.”

The goal didn’t seem to affect Florida, which came out for the second half as sharply as it had the first, and five minutes in Hyde drove a fabulous free kick from 30 yards out into the left corner of the net. It was the senior’s first goal for Florida, and according to Coach Becky Burleigh was something Hyde and assistant coach Victor Campbell had been working on.

“They call themselves the special teams,” Burleigh said. “So it was a good goal for the special teams.”

USF, which had lost defender Bahar Sansar to the virus at halftime, continued to try and roll substitutes in to keep fresh legs on the field, but lost Chelsea Klotz 15 minutes into the second half, the virus becoming too much for her to try and play through.

“Bahar Sansar is a big-time player for us,” Schilte-Brown said. “Her getting sick at halftime, she had a virus going into the game and really toughed it out in the first half, so we were extremely proud of her, but she couldn’t complete the game due to illness, then Taylor Brown went in and she couldn’t complete the game.”

That allowed Florida to build pressure on the USF goal, and it eventually led to Annis' goal in the 78th minute. Jazmyne Avant took a throw-in a yard from the right corner flag in USF’s half, and after a quick pass back from Erika Tymrak created her room, Avant fired a low cross into the penalty area. A cutting Hyde had her shot blocked, only for it to come to Annis 8-yards out, who shot low into the left corner of the net.

Annis said she thought Florida's depth allowed the Gators to wear the Bulls down in the second half.

“That’s definitely one of our strong points,” Annis said. “The way that our system works and the way that we play is that as the game goes on, we wear teams down, and in the end we know that we’re going to still be fresh enough to make those runs into the box, and get wide and they’re not going to be able to keep up.”

Schilte-Brown said she thought there were positives her team could take away from the game.

“When you get to play a good team, a highly-ranked team, and you’re working on a system of play, it kind of answers any questions about the strengths and weaknesses of your system,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think we got a lot of questions answered today.”

Hopefully for the Bulls, the answers they found will show soon.

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