Thursday, September 10, 2009

Colleges: Bulls' women staying positive

TAMPA – Despite being on a three-game winless run since its opening victory against Florida Atlantic, the University of South Florida women’s soccer team is remaining positive about the direction the team is headed in.

According to Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown, she and her staff don’t have to work hard to keep their player's heads up.

“It’s effortless with this team,” she said. “They’re a bunch of positive kids. It’s easy to stay positive when you have girls who are this intelligent and thoughtful and caring. They want to stay positive, so it really is effortless from the coaching staff because we have a great group of girls.”

Midfielder Gina Pacheco thinks that while the results haven’t gone the Bulls way in the past three games, there are lessons that have been learned from losses to Florida and LSU where the Bulls let leads slip away.

“(Holding a lead is) something you have to work on,” Pacheco said. “You always have to maintain (a) positive (outlook) throughout the season.”

TARGET PRACTICE: With three goals, all by Noelle Pineiro, in four games this season, the Bulls haven’t quite found their goalscoring touch yet. Not that it’s been for a lack of effort.

Of the 10 shots the Bulls took against LSU, eight were on target, and they have been averaging 15.5 total shots per game, over five per game more than last season. Schilte-Brown also gave the team extra shooting practice this week ahead of Friday night’s game with Austin Peay to help maintain the emphasis on pulling the trigger in front of net.

Forward Brittany Burt thinks the Bulls do have the ability to turn more chances into goals, and that the chemistry between the team’s forwards and attacking midfielders is continuing to develop.

“We definitely have a lot of people up front who can finish,” Burt said. “(Our chemistry has) come a long way from preseason, we’re finally getting the hang of how each other play, what runs to make. … It’s coming together nicely.”

FINISH STRONG: If there has been something that has disappointed Schilte-Brown, it has been the way her side has finished games.

“Hopefully we’re not protecting a one-goal lead again, but if we are, how will we do that?” Schilte-Brown said. “That’s with patience and hard work, not trying to go for the easy ball over the top at the end of the game (but by) connecting those passes, defending with a full team of 10 instead of a team of six in the back. We’ve learned a lot, it’s just taking those lessons and using them.”

Schilte-Brown added that she thought the Bulls’ difficulty holding leads against LSU and Florida was far more mental than physical.

“I think the stamina has been there,” Schilte-Brown said. “It’s just learning. It’s hard to go from when you’re playing in the summer maybe only one time a week or maybe taking weeks off to playing Friday-Sunday. It’s mentally interesting, it’s a challenge, and it’s one you can be physically fit for but mentally you grow each weekend and get tougher and tougher with it.”

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