Saturday, October 31, 2009

Youth: Flames move into second after victory against Space Coast

SAINT LEO – The Brandon Flames girls under-15’s got a first half goal by Kourtney Rea, and another after the break by Nicole Naclerio to earn a 2-0 victory against Space Coast and move into second place in the Region III Premier League on Saturday afternoon at Saint Leo’s University Field.

The Flames dominated possession throughout the game, weathering the oppressive heat with good ball movement that had Space Coast chasing for possession. Taylor Decaire had an opportunity saved in the ninth minute, and Rea put a rebound into the side-netting in the 17th minute after a shot by Nacleiro was spilled.

The Flames finally took the lead in the 32nd minute. After Shea Rhoney won possession on the right, her pass found Decaire inside the penalty area, and Decaire fired a low ball across the six-yard box for Rea to finish from close range.

“It felt really good to get that first goal,” Flames midfielder Jackie Simpson said. “It calmed us down a lot. When we get a goal, it’s like a sigh of relief.”

Simpson was excellent in the center of midfield, winning possession and holding Space Coast’s Jackie Stengel in check. She was aided in that by center back Amber Coca, who continually read the game well and came up with key interceptions to prevent Space Coast from attacking cohesively and limiting the number of shots goalkeeper Dayton Wetherby had to face.

“They’re two special players,” Flames coach Randy Belli said of Simpson and Coca. “Amber Coca herself is not a fast player. If you put her on the line with any other player on the team, she’s probably going to lose, but she reads the game on a different level. She’s a very intelligent player, she’s always in good position.

“Jackie is probably the best one-on-one defender I’ve ever coached, including the college level. I think her ability to track players back and win balls off them even though they’re in front of her, I’ve never seen anybody like that, so those two have listened, gotten better and improved, and their thought process is just on a different level.”

That was evident in the second half, as the Flames either held possession or didn’t allow Space Coast much opportunity to break out of their own half. Having been told to try to shoot more from distance, the Flames finally added a second goal two minutes from full time as Naclerio took a quick free kick from Aubrey Riggins 25 yards out and blistered a shot in off the underside of the crossbar. The goal was Naclerio’s first in the 11-game league season.

Second place in the league doesn’t automatically advance the Flames to the Southern Regionals in Baton Rouge, La. next summer, but they would be eligible for the berth if two things went their way. First, league champion the CASL Spartan Elite from North Carolina would need to win their state title, and the GSA Phoenix, who could tie the Flames with 23 points, tie or lose one of their remaining three games to leave the Flames alone in second place.

The Flames, of course, could also reach regionals by winning the Florida State Cup in the spring. Naclerio joined the team recently, and said that since she had been with the Flames the goal had been to reach the regional tournament.

“I know everyone on this team has worked hard at every practice because we just want to go to Southern Regionals,” Naclerio said.

College Matchday: No.9 South Florida at Rutgers

WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m., Yurcak Field

NEED TO KNOW: South Florida can seal a bye and home field for the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament as it closes out the regular season on the road against Rutgers. The Bulls trail Louisville by two points for the lead in the Red division, but a win would guarantee them at least second and a home game next Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights have qualified for the Big East tournament, sitting as the prospective No.6 seed in the Blue division. Currently 4-6 in Big East competition, Rutgers has had success against the Bulls in the past, winning three of the last four meetings between the two schools. They have lost their last two games, though, falling 2-0 to Louisville and 3-0 to Villanova in the past week.

The Bulls will look to continue the momentum they’ve built in a five-game winning streak, having scored 11 goals in that span. Zak Boggs’ outstanding free kick gave the Bulls victory against DePaul on Wednesday night, while leading scorer Bernardo Anor appeared to have recovered from a hip flexor that had him sidelined and could regain his starting position tonight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Colleges: Waller's drive pushing Bulls to success

TAMPA – To play college athletics at any level takes a certain amount of competitiveness.

A lot of the time, that competitiveness is either there, or it isn’t. In the case of South Florida’s Angelique Waller, it’s been there from the very start of her Bulls career, and it is now helping fuel the Bulls as they try to spring a big upset on Sunday afternoon at No.6 Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

Not that Waller really thinks too much about what she’s doing when she’s out on the pitch.

“Most of the time I’m just thinking of playing my hardest for everyone on my team,” Waller said. “I don’t want to give anyone short of what I have to offer, so I just play hard every single time I’m on the field because I know I have a talent not many people have.”

In games, Waller’s competitiveness can be seen in the way she competes for every 50/50 challenge, and isn’t afraid to take on the responsibility of defending an opponent’s best attacker. But it is practice that her drive really comes though, according to Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown.

“A lot of people don’t notice her competitiveness,” Schilte-Brown said. “It’s hard unless you’re out here day-in and day-out to see how competitive she is, but she wants to win, and she uses that innate desire to get it done.”

Waller’s competitiveness has clearly impacted the team as it has gone through the season. A vocal leader, she isn’t afraid of pushing her teammates on in practice if she feels the effort required for success is absent.

“For sure, because when we’re practicing and someone’s not giving everything they’re capable of giving, I’ll get on them and make sure they start working harder,” she said. “I think most people know, especially in practice when they’re on my team, they know I’m going to yell at people if they’re not playing their hardest.”

Waller believes that attitude developed from her time in high school at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla. The Eagles have become a women’s soccer powerhouse this decade, winning four consecutive state soccer titles while Waller was on the team, and adding a fifth the season after she graduated.

“I think that’s really where I got so competitive,” Waller said, “because our team wouldn’t sell short of anything but a state championship, so that just grew on me.”

That attitude has rubbed off on her teammates. Bulls goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi, who has become one of Waller’s best friends on the team, remains impressed with the way Waller approaches the game.

“She’s just an awesome player,” Lofton-Malachi said. “People knock her down, she gets up. She’s an awesome athlete, I don’t think I’ve played with anyone like her before.”

Waller takes the same approach away from the pitch. An engineering major, she enjoys finding new ways to challenge herself physically and mentally. Sunday’s game in South Bend, Ind. against the Fighting Irish is a challenge she is looking forward to.

“I’m really excited,” Waller said. “I really wanted an opportunity to play them this year because I know they’re such a great team. We’ve got to go up there and go for it.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colleges: Warren leads No.9 Spartans rout of Lions

TAMPA – For 45 minutes, Saint Leo’s men’s soccer team was able to play with the No.9-ranked University of Tampa.

Then, in a 15 minute span to start the second half, the Spartans were incisive with their play, and decisive with their finishing.

Lister Warren recorded a hat trick as Tampa scored four times in the opening 16 minutes of the second half on its way to a 5-1 victory on Thursday night at Pepin-Rood Stadium that sealed a share of the Sunshine State Conference regular season title.

The rout took shape in the 49th minute, when Karl Swan won a challenge in midfield, the ball deflecting to Warren in the center circle. Warren looked up and saw Swan had continued to move forward, and he slotted a pass into the right channel to find the midfielder, and Swan finished low into the left corner of the net to put the Spartans up 2-0.

Warren scored his second goal of the night seven minutes later as a long cross from the left by Brian Fekete was headed down by Greg O’ Connor, and Warren lifted his volley over the advancing goalkeeper and into the net.

Zach Fraser then created Warren’s hat trick in the 57th minute, stealing the ball in Saint Leo’s half before sending an excellent cross from the right side into the penalty area, finding an unmarked Warren for a free header into the left corner of the net.

O’Connor made it 5-0 three minutes later as he broke the Lions offside trap on a through ball by Pascal Milien, and made no mistake with his finish.

“We weren’t happy with a lot of the stuff that was going on in the first half, and give Saint Leo credit, I think they did a good job,” Spartans coach Adrian Bush said. “I think they really came out with emotion, and that’s what we talked about, and I’m very pleased with how we responded in the second half against a good team.”

Warren had opened the scoring in the 20th minute, finishing a move that saw Milien drive down the right flank before crossing into the penalty area to O’Connor. Warren created an overlap on the left side of the penalty area, and after receiving a pass from O’Connor finished strongly.

Warren paid tribute to his teammates for their creation of the chances he was afforded.

“It’s all about the team,” Warren said. “I scored the goals, but I give credit to the person who passed the ball in. It’s always a team game.”

Milien in particular was excellent, using his pace and skill to create opportunities for his teammates and himself. While he wasn’t able to find the back of the net, it wasn’t for lack of trying as he had 13 of the Spartans 30 shots, seven of which were on target.

“He was active, we really went after him, talked at half time with him about being more active,” Bush said. “He’s a game-changer. Pascal is one of the top players in the country, and I think he showed it tonight. I think it’s unfortunate he didn’t get a goal, but if you look at the production of what he did, it’s not just about scoring goals. He was one of the men of the match definitely tonight.”

Saint Leo pulled a consolation goal back late, a poor free kick by Tampa allowing Odyss Economides to find Jonathan Glenn for a 84th minute goal, but the goal was the only shot on goal the Lions managed in the second half as they were outshot 21-2 after the break by the Spartans.

Tampa had already received good news before the game began, as Rollins won the women’s SSC regular season title. As such, while the Rollins men were in line to host the SSC final four as the No.1 seed, SSC regulations don’t allow the men’s and women’s tournament to be held at the same location. That means the Spartans will host the SSC Men’s Tournament, where they will face the winner of Lynn and Nova Southeastern next Friday.

Warren said he was looking forward to try and win an SSC title on the Spartans’ home field.

“Home advantage is always a positive,” Warren said. “You have the crowd, you are familiar with the turf and everything. Let’s hope we come out the victors.”

Colleges: Klotz lifts Bulls into Big Easy quarterfinals

TAMPA – Whenever the University of South Florida’s women’s soccer team has needed a spark this season, it has always seemed to be Chelsea Klotz that has provided it.

On Thursday night, after the Bulls and DePaul had fought in a scrappy contest that saw more fouls than shots on goal, Klotz scored her ninth goal of the season, and fifth game-winner, to send the Bulls into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament with a 1-0 victory against DePaul.

Klotz, who had earlier had a goal disallowed on a close offside call, made the Blue Demons pay for a poor turnover, picking up the ball just outside the penalty area in the 84th minute before driving her shot home past DePaul goalkeeper Claire Hanold.

“She did well,” Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown said. “It was her first 90-minute game, we didn’t take her off the whole game, and I thought she not only worked hard but she stayed focused and continued to work for an opportunity. “

With the Bulls missing four starters – Taylor Patterson, Rehana Murani, Gina Pacheco and Bahar Sansar—who are trying to earn a place on the Canadian under-20 national team, Schilte-Brown had to turn to players like Taylor Brown and Kendall Campbell, both freshmen, who performed admirably under the circumstances.

“A lot of the girls just went in these positions that they hadn’t played before and said, ‘I can do it,’ “ Schilte-Brown said. “Just confidently took it upon themselves to be positive and confident and I think did really well. There’s just so many things to take away from this game and say, ‘hey, you guys are a great team, and you played together and we’re really, really proud of you.’ “

With the absences, though, the performance of goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi may have been the most important. While she only made four saves on the game, each one was critical. Schilte-Brown said that when Lofton-Malachi came out and established her presence early in the game, it set the tone for the way she performed the rest of the night.

“I feel that when you walk out to the pitch, and you can hear Mallori starts yelling and she’s getting on her teammates in a positive manner, and then that first service comes in and she catches it, that’s it, she’s going to have a fabulous game,” Schilte-Brown said. “That was it for her today, the first serve came in, she came off her line, cleaned it up, and she didn’t miss one (after that).”

The Bulls will travel to No.6 Notre Dame in the quarterfinals. Schilte-Brown said she expected the Bulls’ Canadian contingent to return to the squad in time for Sunday’s game, and that the team was optimistic it could pull the upset of the top-seeded Fighting Irish.

“I feel confident,” Schilte-Brown said. “I feel like (Notre Dame likes) to play soccer, and so do we, and we will have kids back from national camp who should probably be on a high, and we have the girls that just played here and should be on a high, so we’re going with a lot of positive energy. Why not take that and beat a top team?”

USL: Van Der Beck happy at conclusion of combine

TAMPA – After five training sessions in three days in hot and humid conditions, there were a lot of tired bodies and minds at the Ed Radice Sports Complex as the Tampa Bay Rowdies first invitational combine concluded on Thursday afternoon.

Injuries, and players being unused to the Florida climate, meant that the final round of scrimmages was tricky for players, coaches and scouts alike, with players moving in and out to fill out teams. Despite that, though, Rowdies Technical Director Perry Van Der Beck said he was pleased with what he had seen over the three days.

“You know what? I’ve seen a lot of good things,” Van Der Beck said. “I can’t put a number of how many players I would take out of this, but I think I can walk away here and say there are some players here that can play at the next level.”

With the temperature well into the 90s, and little to no breeze to provide any respite, both 60-minute scrimmages were understandably not as crisp or up-tempo as on the opening night of the combine. Van Der Beck said he was expecting that, since many of the players had not been in competitive training recently, but was pleased to see a number of players try to play through a lack of match-fitness, with some participating in both scrimmages.

“They’re not match-fit, and that’s ok,” Van Der Beck said. “I know that going in, I take that, but as I told the players sitting down ‘guys, if you don’t come in fit, you come off the field, the more I see a player, it’s an easier decision for me to make.’ ”

One who took advantage of others sitting out was former Brandon High standout Kirk LaBusch, who played the duration of both games. While Van Der Beck didn’t refer to LaBusch by name, he did praise the work he put in over the week.

“There’s one local kid who I think played out of position, and played more games than anybody, and doesn’t have an agent, and was impressive,” Van Der Beck. “He just doesn’t stop.”

Next for the Rowdies is an international combine to be held in the United Kingdom from November 16-18. Van Der Beck said he hoped to have a similar number to the 40 outfield players and four goalies to attend as the Rowdies look for players that may be able to fill some of the seven international spots USL-1 teams are allowed to carry on their rosters.

Colleges: Spartans, Lions have travelled different paths

TAMPA – As they meet to end the regular season at Pepin-Rood Stadium tonight at 7 p.m., it can easily be said that the seasons of the University of Tampa and Saint Leo men’s soccer teams have taken vastly different paths.

Tampa is currently ranked No.9 in the nation, has only lost once, and while it faces a tough road to get there should certainly be considered one of the favorites to advance to the NCAA Division II Final Four. The Spartans can earn a share of the Sunshine State Conference regular season title with a victory, something Coach Adrian Bush is happy about.

“Anytime you can close out the conference with a win before your final stretch of conference tournament and playoffs is good,” Bush said.

Saint Leo has gone the other way. After a 5-3 record in the SSC last season, the Lions cannot make the SSC tournament this year having only won twice in seven conference games entering Thursday night’s game.

Illness has affected the program for the whole season, with Coach Joel Harrison not knowing at times how many players he would have available on a day-to-day basis. The Lions appeared to be getting on the right track after putting together three straight wins at the beginning of October, including one over then No.14-ranked Lynn, but a pair of defeats to Barry and Nova Southeastern have left the side knowing tonight will be their final game of the season.

“It’s been frustrating, and all kind of things, it’s hard to put it into words,” Harrison said. “I don’t know if its hit us harder than anyone else, but I think our guys have still come out and worked hard and tried to do their best, and that’s all we can ask of them, you know, regardless of who’s healthy an who’s not to go out and compete and hopefully eventually things will start to pay off for us.”

Bush has little to no sympathy for what Saint Leo has gone through, noting that his side, and most sides, face similar adversity during a season.

"That's what you carry extra players on your team for," Bush said. "Every team goes through injuries, and if they want to make an excuse of a flu going through their team, I don't think there's a team in the country that hasn't experienced that.

"So they can sit there and pin-point excuses all they want, hopefully they're healthy now, and we'll see what their excuse is tomorrow."

The Spartans are certainly confident of earning victory. Spartans center back Dan Ingvarsson believes if his teammates take care of outworking the Lions, everything else will take care of itself.

“I know we’re a better soccer team,” Spartans center back Dan Ingvarsson said. “The only thing they can beat us at is work-rate, and if we bring the work-rate, there’s no way we can lose.”

College Women's Matchday: DePaul at South Florida

WHEN: Thursday, 7:30 p.m., USF Soccer Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: South Florida will look to get off to a winning start to the postseason as it host DePaul in the first round of the Big East conference. The Bulls dropped their final two regular season contests to miss out on a first-round bye, but are eager to play at home to try and get back on a winning track.

The Bulls and Blue Demons didn’t meet in the regular season. The Bulls won their last meeting 1-0 last season, Chelsea Klotz scoring the only goal of the game. Klotz leads the Bulls with eight goals, already doubling her output of a season ago, while Noelle Pineiro has six goals and five assists.

The Blue Demons finished 5-6 in Big East play, ending the season with a 1-0 defeat against Villanova. DePaul has fared better at home than on the road, going 4-6-1 in its travels this season as opposed to 6-2-1 at home. Tara Strickland has been the Blue Demons main source of offense, with seven goals and six assists on the season, which put her tied for fourth in the Big East with 20 points.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Colleges: Boggs' free kick lifts Bulls to victory

TAMPA – Zak Boggs’ spectacular free kick in the 31st minute provided the only goal of the game as South Florida took a big step towards a bye and home field for the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament with a 1-0 win against DePaul on Wednesday night at the USF Soccer Stadium.

After Hasani Sinclair was pushed over from behind outside the DePaul penalty area to the left of center, Boggs saw DePaul goalkeeper Joe Ferrari cheating away from the right corner of the net, and fired a curling shot into the top right corner that Ferrari couldn’t recover in time to stop.

“Great goal by Zak,” Bulls coach George Kiefer said. “There wasn’t a lot of stuff to play quick one-twos and get behind them, they took that away, so we got it off the restart tonight.”

In fact, most of the Bull best opportunities came from outside the penalty area, as the Blue Demons played a compact, defensive formation that made it difficult for South Florida to create scoring chances inside the box. The long-range chances the Bulls were able to create were dealt with well for the most part by Ferrari, although he was only able to parry one shot by Boggs in the first half before recovering to thwart Sinclair’s rebound chance.

“It was pretty tough,” Boggs said. “They did compact the game, especially in the second half, but I thought our chances from distance were pretty good.”

Sebastian Thuriere in particular had a strong game, having a fierce shot well saved by Ferrari, and being energetic in midfield to win possession in the Blue Demons' half to set up potential openings. Bernado Anor also showed good energy off the bench after having sat out the past two games with a hip flexor, while Sinclair also had a chance turned away in the second half.

Most of DePaul’s best opportunities came in a late flurry as it tried to get back on even terms as time wound down. Despite a few scares Bulls goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who was named Big East goalkeeper of the week for the third time this season on Monday, recorded his seventh shutout.

“I thought they’d come out a little more after we got the goal, but I didn’t see them do that too much other than the last 10 minutes of the game, but I felt like we handled that well,” Kiefer said. “I thought our movement, the chances we created were good, the closing off of their outlets keeping them pinned in their end was very good. I thought it was a very good performance tonight.”

The Bulls travel to Rutgers to close out the season on Saturday night. A victory would guarantee them a bye and home field as the No.2 seed from the Red division, and if it were to be coupled with a loss by Louisville against Villanova, the Bulls would earn the top seed in the bracket.

“I think we try not to make any game more important or less important, to have to right focus, and this group does a good job of coming out prepared for games,” Kiefer said. “We’ve got a very good road record as well this year, so we should be in good shape.”

Colleges: Lions earn victory, end Spartans' season

Saint Leo’s women ended the University of Tampa’s season as Sara Macko scored one goal and assisted on another to give the Lions a 2-1 victory at Pepin-Rood Stadium on Wednesday night.

The loss eliminated the Spartans from contention for the Sunshine State Conference, as Lynn’s 2-0 victory against Barry earned the Fighting Knights the No.6 and final seed in the tournament.

Macko gave Saint Leo the lead in the ninth minute, firing home a shot from the left side of the penalty area after picking up a cross by Francesca Williams. The goal was Macko’s eighth of the season.

Tampa tied the game before halftime, a poor clearance by the Lions’ defense coming to Megan Tobin, who capitalized on the error to score her third goal of the season, leaving the game even at the break.

Chrissy Darwell broke the tie in the 69th minute, though, as she headed home from Macko’s corner kick.

Had it won, Tampa would have earned the No.6 spot in the SSC tournament thanks to its 2-1 victory against Lynn earlier in the season. As it is, the Spartans young squad will return the bulk of its players for next season, with only Saige Steinmetz and Renta Figuera graduating from this year’s squad.

The No.4 seed Lions will next host No.5 seed Nova Southeastern in the opening round of the SSC tournament on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. After winning the conference tournament title a season ago as the No.4 seed, the Lions will try to make a repeat run this season.

College Matchday: DePaul at No.9 South Florida

WHEN: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., USF Soccer Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: No.9 South Florida will look to maintain its position in the Big East Red division as it faces DePaul, which sits two points behind the Bulls in the standings.

The Bulls enter on a four-game winning streak after coming back from a halftime deficit to defeat Villanova 3-1 on Saturday night. Hasani Sinclair found the net in that contest, his fourth goal of the season. Sinclair is now second on the team in goals, trailing only Bernardo Anor, who has five despite being out of action since the Bulls game against FAU on Oct. 14.

DePaul rebounded from a two-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory against Syracuse on Saturday night, the only home game for the Blue Demons in their final six regular season contests. After opening the season with a pair of victories against ranked opponents, the Blue Demons have now lost three straight against ranked opposition, including a 6-0 drubbing by Louisville on Oct.3. Alex Mangan and Steffen Vroom lead the Blue Demons with seven goals apiece, but the Bulls may be able to take advantage of a defense that has given up almost two goals per game for the season.

College Women's Matchday: Saint Leo at Tampa

WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Pepin-Rood Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: Tampa will look to make the Sunshine State Conference tournament, while Saint Leo will try to end the regular season with a second straight victory when they face each other tonight.

The Spartans could finish sixth in the Sunshine State Conference standings with a victory. The Spartans would also need either a victory by Lynn against Barry or a tie between the two sides on Wednesday night, which would allow the Spartans to earn the No.6 seed. Should Barry win, the Buccaneer’s win against the Spartans would give it the tiebreaker for the No.6 seed. The Spartans are currently on a three-game losing streak that continued with a 3-0 loss for Florida Tech on Saturday night.

The Lions are already confirmed as the No.4 seed in the SSC tournament, where they will face Nova Southeastern in the opening round. The Lions defeated the Sharks in their last outing, posting a 3-1 victory behind a pair of goals by Hannah Beard, who leads the team with 12 on the season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

USL: Day 1 for Rowdies a positive one

TAMPA – The first day of the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ first player combine ended on a damp note, but not before some of the invitees had made an impression on Technical Director Perry Van Der Beck and others looking on at the Ed Radice Sports Complex.

After the first of the evening’s scrimmages had been completed with half of the 44 invitees play two 30 minute halves, the second group managed to play around 15 minutes when a torrential downpour and lightning sent everyone off the fields. With the radar showing the thunderstorms would be staying in the area, the decision was made to end the session early.

While that was disappointing, Van Der Beck was pleased with the way the opening day had gone.
“The way I look at it is you’ve got to start somewhere, and this, I think, is a good start,” Van Der Beck said. “A lot of players are coming in to see if they can play at the next level, and as I told them there are a lot of opportunities, but again there are a lot of players in (USL-1) who are free, and again, it’s a start.”

Van Der Beck didn’t point out anyone specific from the opening game that impressed him, but would say that there were some who gave a good account of themselves.

“There were some players that did stick out, you know, but again (the question is) are they going to be consistent?” Van Der Beck said. “What we’re also looking at is how they match up, so again, they did well for themselves, but it’s still early.”

Four players with local ties appeared to fare well, with former Bradley University standout Joe Donoho, who attended Jesuit, and Brandon High graduate Kirk LaBusch having strong games defensively for the yellow squad.

Ryan Maxwell, who was drafted in the first round of the MLS Draft earlier this year by New England after a strong career at the University of Tampa, also had some excellent moments down the right side for the yellow squad, creating opportunities for his forwards as he attacked with pace when he got the opportunity. Maxwell’s fellow former Spartan Chad Burt had a solid game in midfield for the blue squad.

Aaron King scored both of the goals in the opening scrimmage for the yellow squad, first sliding home a shot into the left corner of the net from 12 yards out, and then combining with strike partner Sean Buckner on a quick give-and-go in the penalty area that gave King a simple finish from close in.

The players will reconvene on Wednesday morning for a technical session before another round of scrimmages in the evening, with a final set of scrimmages on Thursday morning to complete the combine. The task in front of them to go from the opening day of the first combine to the opening roster that will begin play in 155 days is going to be an arduous one, something Van Der Beck has made clear to all those in attendance.

“How many players at this camp right now (will be on the opening roster)? I don’t know,” Van Der Beck said. “What I was telling the players this morning was there’s players in the league that become free agents, and are we interested? Yes. We’re allowed seven internationals, and we’re going to do a combine next month in the U.K. to look for players there. MLS has done away with the reserve system, so now MLS can ... loan players to the USL. Do we have an interest? Yes, so there’s only 22 spots, it’s not going to be hard to do it. I’ve just got to get the right players.”

Colleges: Bulls focusing forward on Blue Demons

TAMPA – It didn’t take long for South Florida's women to put Sunday’s disappointing loss to Syracuse behind them.

The Bulls appeared eager, and ready, for Thursday night’s Big East tournament first round game against DePaul as they practiced on Tuesday afternoon. According to Bulls assistant coach Adam Sayers, the team has been looking forward to getting back to the tournament, and is excited to have a home game against the Blue Demons.

“Our goal all season had been to get into the Big East tournament, and we achieved that goal, so rather than focus on last weekend, we’re looking ahead to what is a very exciting home game,” Sayers said. “Getting to host in itself is a big achievement, so we’re looking forward to the game, the players are looking forward to the game. There were a lot of positives to pull out of last weekend, results aside, and we’re going to focus on those and fit them into the DePaul game.”

South Florida and DePaul didn’t face each other in the regular season, but those within the Bulls camp are expecting a physical game that will require the Bulls to maintain their discipline if they are to move on to face Notre Dame on Sunday. The Bulls are excited, though, to get a home game to start the playoffs after finishing with four consecutive road games to end the regular season.

“Knowing it’s a home game, we’re just really excited,” defender Angelique Waller said. “We get to gain our confidence back after a loss away, so I think we’re going to play as a team and get the win this week and go on the road and beat Notre Dame.”

PENALTY PRACTICE: Moving into the postseason means no more ties, and the prospect of penalty shootouts if teams can’t settle things in regulation or overtime.

The Bulls finished practice with a round of spot kicks as Coach Denise Schilte-Brown began formulating who might be called upon should a game go to penalties. Also getting practice was Bulls goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi as she tried to stop her teammate’s shots, and she was in a good mood after practice when asked if she had any specific things she tried to do when facing penalties.

“If I told you, then I’d have to kill you,” she said with a straight face before breaking into a smile. “I just try to stay as confident as possible because in the end goalkeepers aren’t supposed to be the ones scoring the goals, we’re not really expected to save them, so you just try to do the best you can in there and try to stop some.”

PROPER PREPARATION: With the bulk of the Bulls’ squad being underclassmen, there are only a handful of players who have competed in the Big East tournament before. Lofton-Malachi and Waller are two who have, and Lofton-Malachi said the most important thing for the side to do is make sure it takes care of what it wants to try and do in the game.

“I think we’re really focused on ourselves,” Lofton-Malachi said. “(DePaul is) probably as excited to be in the Big East tournament as much as we are again. I think me, Angelique and (Lindsey Krawower) are the only ones, with a couple of other people, who have been in the Big East tournament first round, so it’s exciting for everyone, but I think we’re more focused on ourselves and what we need to do to beat them and play Notre Dame on Sunday.”

Sayers added that from the moment the Bulls knew they would be playing on Thursday, the team’s focus has been on preparing properly to ensure a good start to the game and advancement into the tournament quarterfinals.

“Everything from the end of the previous game leads up to those first 20 minutes (of the game),” Sayers said. “So we’ll make sure the preparation is correct physically in terms of the training we do leading up to the game and the warm-up, we’ll make sure that’s to the required standard. Nutritionally we’ll make sure everything is in place so they’re as fueled as possible going into the game, and then we’ll implement the game plan that we’ve set out.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Colleges: Spartans finish poorly, but earn victory

TAMPA -The No.9 Tampa Spartans did close to everything right against Johnson and Wales.

They dominated possession, held the Wildcats to just two shots, neither of which tested Clete Goddard in the Tampa net, and on another night would have seen more of their 30 shots find the back of the net to record just as lopsided a win as many opponents have against the Wildcats this season.

But on Monday night at Pepin-Rood Stadium, the Spartans left their goal-scoring boots back in the locker room as a late first half penalty and early second half fluke were the only goals in a 2-0 victory.

Not that Spartans coach Adrian Bush was overly perturbed by the way the game played out.

“It’s soccer,” Bush said. “I was happy that a lot of our guys got quality minutes tonight. We did what we had to do to come in here with a win, stayed healthy, no cards, and we did exactly that.”

All that was the case, only Goddard, Dan Bergstrand and Matt Noble played the full 90 minutes for the Spartans as 26 players saw action, but the Spartans could, and probably should, have had more success in front of goal. The Wildcats used their offside trap to great effect, catching the Spartans seven times in each half, and even when the Spartans beat it, either Wildcats goalkeeper Sky Brisco was on hand to save, making nine overall, or the opportunity was squandered.

It wasn’t until the 44th minute that the Spartans broke the deadlock when Hamza El Haouati picked up the ball on the left, beat his defender and was brought down just inside the left edge of the penalty area. Dominic Goncalves stepped up and fired his shot low into the left corner of the net to convert the spot kick.

Tampa doubled its lead six minutes after the break when Matt Davies picked the ball up 45 yards from goal on the right. Looking to send an angled ball into the penalty area, Davies sent the ball long, but instead of being met by a Spartan head, it floated over Brisco’s head and into the left corner of the goal.

The Spartans will hope to be sharper on Thursday night when they host Saint Leo. A victory would give Tampa at least a share of the Sunshine State Conference regular season title, as it currently sits tied with Rollins on 18 points.

“Thursday’s about work rate,” Bush said. “That’s really what it comes down to anytime. It’s a battle with Saint Leo, it’s about the effort and the work rate, and I think the team that is the hardest-working team on Thursday is the one that’s going to come out on top.”

Youth: RSL Florida earns Region III Premier League title

RSL Florida’s boys under-16 squad completed an undefeated season, and won the club’s first Region III Premier League title with a pair of victories over the weekend.

Travis Jehs and Ricky McEwan found the net for RSL on Saturday evening as it defeated CESA Premier 2-0, and McEwan struck again on Sunday, scoring the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against Columbia United.

According to RSL coach Steve Wolf, earning the title was not just special for the players, but important for them. The side has suffered disappointment in the past in big events, losing in the final of the Florida State Cup in the last three seasons.

Wolf believes now they have won a major title, sealing it with a pair of strong victories, the team’s confidence will grow and it will allow the team to relax more when facing pressure situations. The last west Florida side to win a Region III title was the IMG Academy's girls under-18 side in 2007, which contained a number of local standouts, but RSL's victory is believed to be the first title won by a Tampa-based team.

“I think this is very important for the guys psychologically,” Wolf said. “To get past this point and to win something big, because they’ve been through going to State Cup three years in a row and losing in the final. Now we’ve stamped our ticket to regionals, I think we can be a little more relaxed and a little less pressure on us going into State Cup.”

Making this step, where a team learns to perform under pressure, especially with a title on the line, can be a key moment in a player’s and a team’s development.

“That’s something that champions do,” Wolf said. “That’s what it’s all about, learning to deal with pressure and winning. Hopefully we can keep progressing from here.”

Famliar faces at first Rowdies combine

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have revealed a few names with bay area ties the USL-1 expansion franchise will work out when it holds the first of four tryout combines at the Ed Radice Sports Complex, beginning on Tuesday evening.

Four of the invitees were selected earlier this year in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. Former University of Tampa standout Ryan Maxwell, who was a first-round selection by the New England Revolution, will attend, as will former South Florida forward Jordan Seabrook, who was a Colorado Rapids selection.

Richard Jata, who played for Ridgewood High before playing collegiately for Furman and Campbell University, may be best known for the speech he gave after he was selected in the fourth round of the draft by the Chicago Fire.

Rounding out the quartet is former Clearwater standout Brian Shriver, who had a stellar career at North Carolina before being drafted by FC Dallas and playing for FC Miami in USL-1 this past season.

Others invited include Steven Morris, who attended Countryside and Palm Harbor before travelling to play in Honduras for Club Deportivo Motagua and others in the past five seasons, and New Port Richey’s Tanner Wolfe, who finished his collegiate career at Stetson as the fifth-highest scorer in Hatters’ history.

The combine will be held over three days, with Tuesday and Wednesday’s session being held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday’s session taking place from 9 a.m. to noon.

College Matchday: Johnson and Wales at No.9 Tampa

WHEN: Monday, 7 p.m., Pepin-Rood Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: The Spartans face what should be little more than a tune-up against a Johnson and Wales side that has only won twice in fifteen outings this season.

The Wildcats have given up 22 goals in the past four losses, and have already suffered heavy defeats to Sunshine State Conference opponents Lynn, Barry and Florida Tech.

As a result, Tampa should breeze to victory ahead of its final SSC game of the season against rival Saint Leo on Thursday night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Colleges: Bulls drop second straight, miss out on tournament bye

South Florida had its eyes on a bye and home game in the Big East tournament quarterfinals next weekend.

The Bulls will get a home game to open the playoffs, but it will be against DePaul on Thursday night as a late goal by Tina Romagnuolo gave Syracuse a 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon, dropping the Bulls into fourth place in the Big East American division standings.

Romagnuolo gave the Orange the lead in the 11th minute, scoring from the left side of the penalty area after being found by a cross from the right by Casey Ramirez. Syracuse the doubled its lead in the 53rd minute as Tessa MacDougal converted from the spot after a USF handball in its penalty area.

The Bulls hit back, Noelle Pineiro proving critical as she earned assists on both Bulls’ goals. Chelsea Klotz was the first recipient of Pineiro’s creativity, scoring her eighth goal of the season in the 64th minute, and Angelique Waller tied the game with a header from Pineiro’s corner 13 minutes later.

But the Bulls couldn’t complete the comeback as Romagnuolo picked the ball up off a throw-in, beat her defender and shot home for her ninth goal of the season.

The win was the second straight for the Bulls, who will need to regain their form quickly as they prepare to face the Blue Demons. DePaul lost 1-0 to Villanova in its final game of the regular season on Sunday.

College Women's Matchday: South Florida at Syracuse

WHEN: Sunday, noon, SU Soccer Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: While the Bulls loss on Friday dropped them to third in the Big East American division standings, other results going their way later in the day sealed their place in the Big East tournament.

Now South Florida can earn home field for the quarterfinals of the tournament with a victory over the Orange and a Marquette win against St. John’s. That combination of results would allow the Bulls to jump over the Red Storm into second place in the American division standings, and face the third-place team from the National division next Sunday at the USF Soccer Stadium.

On paper, the Bulls end of the formula should appear easy as Syracuse enters the game with a 1-8-1 record in Big East play, but the Orange almost held Marquette on Friday, a late goal giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 double overtime victory.

South Florida will hope its recent form on Sunday’s will prevail, the Bulls are 4-0-1 in their last four Sunday afternoon games including a 2-1 overtime win against Cincinnati last weekend. Chelsea Klotz was the difference in that game, and will look to add to her team-high of seven goals against a Syracuse side that has given up 1.50 goals per game.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Colleges: No.13 Bulls rally past Villanova for victory

No.13 South Florida rallied from a halftime deficit to earn a 3-1 victory against Villanova and remain in second place in the Big East Red division on Saturday night.

The Bull came out flat in the first half, and paid the price as Matt Seamon gave the Wildcats the lead in the sixth minute. The Wildcats almost added to their lead in the 32nd minute, but Ashani Fairclough was on hand to head the ball away for a corner after Bulls goalkeeper Jeff Attinella had been beaten by Adam Amman’s shot.

Lucky to be trailing by only a goal, the Bulls turned their performance around in the second half. After Seamon was shown a red card in the 61st minute, the Bulls quickly got back on level terms, Hasani Sinclair finding the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

The Bulls then took the lead eight minutes later as Javed Mohammed’s corner found Andre Mittoo in the penalty area. Mittoo played the ball to Fairclough before Sebastian Thuriere finished the opportunity, burying the ball in the back of the net.

Ogi Perucica then added a third for the Bulls in the 76th minute, the senior recording his first career goal for the Bulls on Senior Night to make it 3-1.

South Florida remains two points behind Louisville in the Red division with the victory, and one point ahead of St. John’s with two games to play. The Bulls will look for a fourth straight win against DePaul at the USF Soccer Stadium on Wednesday night before travelling to Rutgers next Saturday to close out the season.

Colleges: Milien goal edges No.9 Spartans past Panthers

Pascal Milien scored his 10th goal of the season, and Ryan Thompson made a pair of crucial late saves as No.9 Tampa defeated Florida Tech 1-0 to move into a tie with Rollins for first place in the Sunshine State Conference.

With the game deadlocked entering the second half, the Spartans had a strong spell of pressure in the first 10 minutes after the break, Brian Fekete and Ryan Griffin both forcing saves from Florida Tech goalkeeper Derrick Hackett. The game continued to flow back and forth until the 79th minute when Lister Warren found Milien on the left side, and he fired his shot into the left side of the net to the Spartans the lead.

The Panthers tried to rally, Naru Wild-Putsorn shooting over the bar and Nicolas Garcia having his shot blocked before their best chance came in the 88th minute. Peter Mindley had his shot saved by Thompson, who then recovered in time to stop David Tufft’s chance on the rebound.

According to Spartans coach Adrian Bush, Thompson was a game-time decision before kickoff, but his six saves earned the senior his third shutout of the season.

"The difference-maker today was Ryan Thompson," Bush said. "To come into today as a game time decision and for him to deliver that type of performance is nothing short of amazing."

The Spartans face their final non-conference game of the season against Johnson and Wales on Monday before closing the regular season against rival Saint Leo on Thursday night. The Spartans could have a chance to win the SSC regular season title after Rollins lost its first game of the season 2-0 to Barry on Saturday night, leaving both sides with 18 points in the standings with one game to play.

Colleges: Late goal sinks Lions hopes

Saint Leo’s Bruce Cutler scored twice to rally the Lions back from a two-goal deficit, but a goal in the 82nd minute by Craig Heenighan, his second of the game, gave Nova Southeastern a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.

The Sharks came out sharply, and their early pressure told in the 19th minute as Heenighan found Romain Onteniente in the penalty area for a goal from 10 yards out. The Lions were able to withstand the pressure for the rest of the first half, but Heenighan doubled the lead within a minute of the start of the second half, driving a shot home from 20 yards out on the right side.

The Lions got back on even terms before the game reached the hour mark, Jesper Otterstedt finding Cutler just outside the penalty area, and Cutler driving his shot into the net in the 52nd minute. Cutler then converted a 59th minute penalty kick to tie the game up.

With the momentum turned, the Lions continued to pressure the Sharks goal. Otterstedt, Cutler and Leonardo Nogueira all had efforts saved by NSU goalkeeper Lyle Howe, but it was the Sharks who found the game-winner, Heenighan scoring from 25 yards out on the Sharks first shot in 20 minutes.

The loss leaves the Lions eighth in the SSC standings, and with the prospect of closing out the season against No.9 Tampa at Pepin-Rood Stadium on Thursday night.

Colleges: Spartans drop third straight in loss to Panthers

No.17 Florida Tech took an early lead, and earned its first-ever victory against the University of Tampa with a 3-0 win on Saturday evening, keeping the pressure on Rollins at the top of the Sunshine State Conference.

Entering the game 0-4-4 all-time against the Spartans, the Panthers took the lead in the second minute when Teresa Brantley’s ball into the penalty area found DeeDee Newland, who shot low into the left corner of the net.

The Panthers continued to press forward, forcing Spartans goalkeeper Kendall Bourdon into five first half saves, and found a second goal in the final minute of the half as Paula Lillsjo scored her first goal of the season.

Tampa played better in the second half, but was unable to beat Panthers goalkeeper Mellissa Pyles, who made eight saves to record the shutout. Florida Tech put the game away in the 69th minute when Jennifer Gillette converted a penalty kick after a foul in the area.

The loss was the third straight for the Spartans, who currently sit seventh in the SSC standings. Tampa returns home for its final regular season game against rival Saint Leo on Wednesday night.

Colleges: Beard's two goals give Lions victory

A pair of second half goals by Hannah Beard gave Saint Leo a 3-1 victory against Nova Southeastern, and also gave the Lions momentum as they move towards their final game of the regular season.

After a scoreless first half, the Lions began to build pressure on the Sharks goal, NSU goalkeeper Sarah Glass having to make saves from Pia Soesemann twice and Kelli Jones. The Lions then took the lead on the hour mark as Sara Macko converted a penalty kick for her seventh goal of the season.

Beard then notched her first, picking up a pass from Soesemann on the right side of the penalty area before finishing in the 73rd minute. NSU pulled a goal back six minutes later, Alexis Hernandez beating the Lions defense to a long ball over the top that put her through on goal to score, but Beard sealed the victory in the 83th minute, her 12th goal of the season.

The Lions sealed the No.4 seed for the Sunshine State Conference tournament with the win, and will now face rival Tampa at Pepin-Rood Stadium to close out the regular season on Wednesday.

College Matchday: Villanova at No.13 South Florida

WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., USF Soccer Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: South Florida will try to maintain pressure on first-place Louisville in the Big East Red division while trying to protect its position as it faces Villanova, a side it has defeated in all four previous meetings.

The Wildcats (8-5-2, 4-3-1) sit in third place in the Red division, one point behind the Bulls in the standings, and enter the game on a two-game winning streak. Mike Seamon scored his fourth goal of the season to give Villanova a 1-0 victory against Columbia on Tuesday. Kyle Soroka leads the Wildcat with five goals, while Seamon has added seven assists.

The Bulls (10-2-2, 4-2-2) also faced Ivy League opposition in their last outing, Jorge Mora’s goal giving the Bulls victory against No.15 Dartmouth on Wednesday night. The Bulls remain undefeated at home this season, and have now gone over two years since their last loss at the USF Soccer Stadium, holding a 26-game undefeated streak entering Saturday’s contest.

College Matchday: No.9 Tampa at Florida Tech

WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m., Rick Stottler Field

NEED TO KNOW: The No.9-ranked Spartans will try to keep the pressure on Rollins in the Sunshine State Conference title race when they travel to Melbourne to take on the Panthers.

The Spartans (11-1-1, 5-1-0 SSC) exploded offensively for six goals in their last outing against Nova Southeastern, Lister Warren and Greg Sasser each scoring twice in a 6-1 victory, continuing a trend that has seen Tampa average four goals per game in their last four contests.

The Spartans attack will likely test a Panthers defense that has allowed 1.50 goals per game this season. Florida Tech snapped a two-game losing run with a victory last Saturday against Nova Southeastern, but that was only the Panthers second SSC victory this season. The Panthers (7-7-0, 2-4-0) are led by Stanley Abade, who has scored seven goals this season.

College Matchday: Saint Leo at Nova Southeastern

WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m., NSU Soccer Complex

NEED TO KNOW: With a week off after their defeat to Barry, the Lions will face a Nova Southeastern side that has struggled defensively this season.

The Sharks are coming off a 6-1 drubbing by Tampa earlier this week, and gave up seven to Lynn in mid-September. Currently on a three-game losing streak, and having lost five out of their last six, the Sharks only win in October came in a 1-0 win against Eckerd.

The Lions will look to take advantage of the Sharks defensive frailty, with Jonathan Glenn having scored eight goals in 13 games and Leonardo Nogueira adding four goals. Prior to their loss to Barry last Saturday, the Lions had won three games in a row, and will look to post a victory before their regular-season ending trip to rival Tampa.

Friday, October 23, 2009

College Women's Matchday: Tampa at No.17 Florida Tech

WHEN: Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Rick Stottler Field

NEED TO KNOW: Coming off a disappointing loss to Rollins, where the Spartans held a 2-0 lead only to lose 3-2, Tampa (6-9-1, 2-4-0) gets a second straight opportunity to defeat a ranked opponent when it faces the Panthers.

Florida Tech (12-2-0, 5-0-1 SSC) is on a four-game winning streak after edging out Saint Leo on Tuesday 1-0 in double-overtime. Teresa Brantley, who won the SSC Offensive Player of the Week award last Monday, scored the only goal against the Lions, and leads the team with 10 goals. The Panthers are also strong in net, with Melissa holding opponents to 0.73 goals per game.

The Spartans’ loss to Rollins was their second in a row, and they will want to try and build momentum entering first a rivalry game against Saint Leo on Wednesday before the SSC Tournament begins. Jazmin Perry picked up her team-leading eighth goal of the season on Tuesday, as the Spartans are averaging almost two goals per game.

College Women's Matchday: Saint Leo at Nova Southeastern

WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m., NSU Soccer Complex

NEED TO KNOW: The Lions will try to move ahead of the Sharks in the Sunshine State Conference standings when the two teams meet. Both sides have won three games in conference play so far, with NSU having earned one point more thanks to a tie against Rollins.

The Sharks (6-5-1, 3-3-1 SSC) fell 3-1 in their last outing against Florida Tech, and conclude their SSC schedule with Saturday’s game. NSU has spread its scoring around, with three players, Elizabeth Brauher, Aubrey Fondy and Alexis Hernandez, each scoring three goals this season.

The Lions (6-4-1, 3-3-0), on the other hand, have had Hannah Beard as a consistent scoring threat. The senior has scored 10 goals in 10 games for the Bulls, adding a pair of assists. Thanks to that, and the performances of Pia Soesemann (seven goals) and Sara Macko (six), the Lions have averaged four goals per game for the season, including 2.67 in conference play.

Colleges: Bulls fall in overtime to Red Storm

South Florida saw its chance to win the Big East American division title likely slip away as St. John’s scored in the second minute of double-overtime to win 1-0 and jump the Bulls in the standings.

Courtney Lane scored the game-winning goal, finishing a move started by midfielder Amanda Pasciolla. She found Vailla Barsley, who took a touch and found Lane at the top of the penalty area, and Lane fired her shot into the right corner of the net past an outstretched Mallori Lofton-Malachi in the 102nd minute.

The Bulls (8-6-3, 5-3-2 Big East) only need a point from their final game against Syracuse to secure their place in the Big East tournament, and if results go their way they could still earn home field for the quarterfinals. The loss, though, was a tough one as the Bulls had entered on a three-game winning streak.

The Red Storm (12-4-1, 6-3-1) had had the better of the game in regulation, and Lofton-Malachi did well to keep the game scoreless making five saves. The Bulls chances were limited, Taylor Patterson finding room for a pair of shots that tested St. John’s goalkeeper Kristin Russell, but the Bulls were at their most dangerous in the first period of extra time as Patterson and Valorie O’Brien each had shots saved while Chelsea Klotz and Noelle Pineiro both sent chances wide.

Youth: RSL Under-16s on verge of Premier League title

TAMPA – For RSL Florida boys under-16 coach Steve Wolf, his first experience with the Region III Premier League has been a thoroughly enjoyable one.

“It’s very exciting,” Wolf said on Thursday evening at RSL’s training fields. “This is the first season I’ve been in this league and coached in this league, and the competition is great. It’s really first class, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Part of that enjoyment has come from the success his side has found. The squad enters the final weekend of the season undefeated and on top of the league with two games to play. The Florida State Cup runners-up for the last three seasons, victory would be a major accomplishment for the side, and earn it an automatic berth to next year’s Southern Regional tournament in Baton Rouge, La.

According to Wolf, a big key to the side’s success this season has been its resiliance. In three of the seven games RSL has played so far, they have rallied to win after facing deficits. That has filled Wolf, who began coaching the side in July, with an immense sense of pride.

“We’ve had three games where we were behind by a goal and we came back and won those matches, so from that aspect I’m very happy with the boys,” Wolf said. “Just knowing that we can be in that situation where we’re down, but we still have come back and won matches. I think that’s something to be very proud of.”

The Region III Premier League is made up of teams in the Southern region that finished as either the champion or runner-up of the State Cup tournament earlier this year, giving every team high-level competition on a regular basis. After finishing sixth out of ten teams as an under-15 side with a 3-3-3 record last season, RSL captain Zach Higgins said the team has shown greater maturity this season, taking every challenge it has faced in stride.

Pair that with the side’s determination to outwork its opponents in every contest, and the 6-0-1 record it currently holds is easy to explain.

“This experience has definitely been good,” Higgins said. “Considering the fact that we were only at .500 last year, this is a big improvement for us. I just think we’ve been working a lot harder to get better, working a lot harder in the games to outwork the other team. That’s what it’s all about.”

With games remaining against CESA Premier and Columbia United from South Carolina, both of whom sit below .500 currently, RSL doesn’t want to relinquish the hold it has on a potential title.
“It does you no good to play well for the first seven games and then mess up all your hard work in the final two games,” Higgins said. “It definitely would mean a lot to win the league and get a secured spot in regionals.”
That reward would also mean a lot to Wolf.
“I think our approach has been excellent,” Wolf said. “The table so far reflects on our performances, so (we’ve) just to go out and play the way we’ve been playing, to prepare the way we’ve been preparing, and to relax.
“I think the main thing is to relax and play.”

College Women's Matchday: South Florida at St. John's

WHEN: Friday, 4 p.m., Belson Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: South Florida faces a tough test to open its final weekend of the regular season, with St. John’s trailing the Bulls and Marquette by just one point in the Big East American division.

The Red Storm lost their last contest to fall into third place in the division, but with games against the Bulls and Golden Eagles to close the regular season, can jump back over both to win the division crown. The Red Storm has been particularly tight defensively, with goalkeeper Kristen Russell holding a 0.61 goals against average. That has been aided by her back line, which allows only 3.69 shots on goal per game.

Looking to break down the St. John’s defense will be Chelsea Klotz, who leads the Bulls with seven goals. The Bulls have been far better in attack this season, Noelle Pineiro adding six goals, as the Bulls have already scored 10 more goals than in 2008. A big key to that has been the creativity of the Bulls midfield, which has seen Taylor Patterson record five assists and Pineiro, Gina Pacheco and Rehana Murani add three apiece.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Colleges: Bulls confidence high entering final weekend

For the University of South Florida’s womens soccer team, confidence has been the key to the season.

Even when the Bulls came out on the wrong end of results early in the season, there was a belief that ran through the team that their fortunes would change and wins would come.

Now, entering the final week of the season, the wins have arrived. Sitting at 5-2-2 in the Big East, and tied with Marquette for the lead in the American division, the Bulls confidence is high as it enters Friday’s game at St. John's on a three-game winning streak. According the Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown, the more the side has won, the more confident it has become.

“Every win is a reinforcement of your hard work and your belief in what you’re doing,” Schilte-Brown said. “There’s no bigger reward than getting that ‘W’, so as high as your confidence is, and as much as we believe in ourselves, it just continues to help with that. I think it’s an important part of being successful is to have confidence and belief.”

A player who has exemplified this has been freshman defender Alexandra ‘Boo’ Eagle. Named to the Big East honor roll this week, Eagle has started 14 of the Bulls 16 games this season, and has been a critical component in the Bulls defense as she has made the transition from high-level youth soccer to college almost seamlessly.

“I think it’s just been her approach to everything,” Schilte-Brown said when asked about Eagle’s success. “She’s just a confident, laid-back kind of kid. I don’t think she asks too many questions, or gets too worked up about anything, she just listens to what you said and tries to apply it without putting too much pressure on herself.”

Chelsea Klotz was also named to the honor roll after scoring twice against Cincinnati, including the game-winning goal in overtime, in a 2-1 victory. Playing at St. John’s – and its artificial turf playing surface – on Friday afternoon, Schilte-Brown thinks Klotz will continue to find success.

“I think her confidence is up there and she’s very aware that she’s getting on the board and scoring those points,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think she feels really good about that, and we’re excited. She’s a very good player on turf, and St. John’s plays on turf, and that seems to be an area where Chelsea excels so I think she’s excited about that.”

As is the rest of the Bulls squad to have the opportunity to win its first Big East American division title this weekend. A pair of victories could give Schilte-Brown and her squad a prize they’ve been looking for since the beginning of the season.

“We feel very good,” Schilte-Brown said. “Excellent week (of practice), very sharp. The girls look ready.”

Colleges: Mora, Attinella lead No.13 Bulls past No.15 Dartmouth

Jorge Mora’s second goal of the season was enough to give No.13 South Florida its third straight victory as it defeated No.15 Dartmouth 1-0 at the USF Soccer Stadium on Wednesday night.

Mora gave the Bulls the lead in the 27th minute, picking up a pass from Hasani Sinclair before taking a pair of touches and driving a low shot from 25 yards out into the bottom-left corner of the net.

Dartmouth played tightly when the Bulls had possession, putting numbers behind the ball, but the Big Green were able to create a number of chances with their speed on the counter-attack. Bulls goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was named the player of the game, and he had to be sharp early as both Lucky Mkosana and Austin Bowers hit the target with early chances.

The Bulls came close to taking the lead in the 16th minute when Ashani Fairclough had his header from a free kick by Javed Mohammed just turned around the post by Dartmouth goalkeeper Sean Donovan, but it was Dartmouth that posed a greater threat, outshooting the Bulls 9-3 before the break.

The game tightened defensively as the second half wore on, but Attinella still had to make a pair of important saves from Andrew Olsen and Mkosana around the hour mark. Attinella finished with eight saves as he recorded his sixth shutout of the season.

South Florida continues its home stand when it hosts Villanova on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. before the Bulls host DePaul next Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Colleges: No.9 Spartans hit Sharks for six

Lister Warren scored twice in the first half, and Greg Sasser scored his first two goals of the season in the second as No.9 Tampa romped past Nova Southeastern 6-1 at the NSU Soccer Complex on Wednesday night.

Warren gave the Spartans the lead in the 15th minute before Greg O’Connor scored his second of the season two minutes later, driving home a shot from just outside the penalty area.

Warren added his second on the half-hour mark as the Spartans completely controlled the first half, allowing the Sharks only two shots on goal.

NSU did find the net just before the hour mark, Romain Onteniente heading home from Tim Taylor’s corner, but the Spartans regained their three-goal advantage when Pascal Milien scored in the 70th minute.

Sasser, brought on as a substitute for Warren, then scored twice in the final five minutes to complete the rout.

Tampa remains on the road this weekend as it travels to face Florida Tech at 4 p.m. on Saturday before closing the regular season with a pair of home games against Johnson and Wales and Saint Leo.

Colleges: Spartans can't hold lead against No.9 Rollins

Jazmin Perry and Courtney Peffley gave the University of Tampa an early lead, but the Spartans were unable to maintain their momentum as No.9 Rollins rallied for a 3-2 victory at Cahall-Sandspur Field on Wednesday night.

Perry gave the Spartans the lead in the 16th minute, scoring after Saige Steinmetz’s free kick into the penalty area wasn’t cleared by the Tars defense.

Peffley doubled the lead six minute later, capitalizing on more poor defensive play by Rollins to score her first goal for the Spartans.

"The girl’s played an excellent game again tonight,” Spartans coach Gerry Lucey said. “We were sharp, moved the ball quickly and intelligently.”

Rollins pulled a goal back before halftime, as Joy Powell’s pass found Mellissa Doerk on the right, and Doerk fired her shot into the left corner of the net in the 30th minute.

The game tightened at the beginning of the second half. Tampa’s Brittan Spence forced a save from Rolllins’ goalkeeper Michelle Dillingham, but Rollins tied the game in the 72nd minute as Charlotte Murrell headed home from Ashley Waplinger’s corner.

Rollins then found a game-winner five minutes later as Leah Hirsh’s drive from outside the penalty area gave the Tars victory.

Despite the loss, Lucey was pleased with his young side’s performance.

“We have outshot Rollins 10-8 and given them a fright,” Lucey said. “The team knows how happy I am with their performances and attitude and we just need to be able to finish games out. The future is very bright for these young and talented players."

Preps: Seminole replaces Sickles at Lady Wildcat Invitational

Seminole has been added to the Lady Wildcat Invitational hosted by Wharton after Sickles withdrew from the tournament.

The Warhawks will meet Durant on Tuesday in the opening round, with Clearwater Central Catholic now facing host Wharton on Monday evening. The other two first round games, Alonso vs. Newsome and Plant vs. Freedom, remain as previously scheduled.


Monday, Nov. 2

Game 1 – Alonso vs. Newsome, 5 p.m.
Game 2 – Wharton vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 3
Game 3 – Seminole vs. Durant, 5 p.m.
Game 4 – Plant vs. Freedom, 6:30 p.m.
Game 5 – Alonso/Newsome winner vs. Wharton/CCC winner, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov.4
Game 6 – Alonso/Newsome loser vs. Wharton/CCC loser, 5 p.m.
Game 7 – Seminole/Durant loser vs. Plant/Freedom loser, 6:30 p.m.
Game 8 – Seminole/Durant winner vs. Plant/Freedom winner, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 7
Game 9
– Game 3 loser vs. Game 7 loser, 9 a.m.
Game 10 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 10:30 a.m.
Game 11 – Game 5 loser vs. Game 8 loser, noon
Championship – Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 2 p.m.

College Matchday: No.15 Dartmouth at No.13 South Florida

WHEN: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., USF Soccer Stadium

NEED TO KNOW: South Florida will look to extend its two-game winning streak as it faced another Top 25 team in Dartmouth for its final non-conference game of the season.

The Big Green defeated Penn 3-0 on Sunday night to remain perfect in the Ivy League, and are led by Daniel Keat who has seven goals and five assists in 11 games this season. Dartmouth has also been tight defensively, only allowing 6.4 shots against per game this season.

That, and Dartmouth goalkeeper Sean Donovan’s 1.16 goals against average, will likely be tested against a Bulls attack that appears to have come into form recently. South Florida has scored six goals over the past two games, including a 3-0 drubbing of Syracuse on Saturday night that saw Sebastian Thuriere have a goal and an assist and Javed Mohammed record two assists for the Bulls. Zak Boggs and Hasani Sinclair have also started finding the net, now with three goals apiece for the season, which has taken a little pressure off Jeff Attinella and the Bulls defense.

The game can be seen on the Bright House Sports Network, Channel 47 on the cable system.

College Matchday: No.9 Tampa at Nova Southeastern

WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., NSU Soccer Complex

NEED TO KNOW: The Spartans will try to rebound from their first loss of the season as they face a Nova Southeastern squad that has struggled to find form of late.

The Sharks have lost two straight games, falling to Palm Beach Atlantic and Florida Tech in the past week, and four of their last five. NSU did give No.3 Rollins a run, falling 3-2 two weeks ago, but overall they rank No.8 in the conference scoring only 1.40 goals per game.

The Spartans would need Rollins to slip up to claim a share of the SSC title after the Tars 3-2 victory on Saturday night. The Spartan defense statistically has been better than it was last season, with goalkeeper Ryan Thompson currently second in the conference with a .817 save percentage, but the Spartans would like to cut down the number of scoring chances they are allowing opponents.

College Women's Matchday: Tampa at No.9 Rollins

WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Cahall-Sandspur Field

NEED TO KNOW: With the Sunshine State Conference regular season title out of reach, the Spartans have an opportunity to play spoiler as they travel to face No.9 Rollins on Wednesday night.

The Spartans suffered a disappointing 1-0 overtime loss to Barry on Friday night. Despite outshooting the Buccaneers 23-7, Tampa couldn’t find a decisive goal in regulation, and lost for the third time in SSC play this season. They will face a tough test from a Tars defense that has given up only 0.69 goal per game this season.

Rollins is the only team to remain undefeated in the SSC, a tie against Nova Southeastern the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record. If the Tars win out in their final three games, they would win their second consecutive SSC regular season title.

Colleges: Lions fall to late goal against No.17 Panthers

Florida Tech’s Teresa Brantley scored in the 18th minute of overtime to give the No.17 Panthers a 1-0 victory, and a season sweep, over Saint Leo at Rick Stottier Field on Tuesday evening.

Kelli Ragan’s pass found Brantley just inside the penalty area, and the forward made a quick move before chipping the ball into the net from 15 yards out. It was Brantley’s 10th goal of the season, and gave the Panthers their 12th victory of the season, setting a new school record.

“I was really frustrated with my play in the beginning of the game so it feels great to help the team earn a win,” Brantley said. “We battled throughout the match and were determined to win. It’s nice to get our 12th victory, but we still have three games ahead of us that we need to concentrate on.”

Both sides had fought to break the deadlock until that point, as Saint Leo’s Cristina Coca had made six saves and Florida Tech’s Melissa Pyles four to keep the game scoreless.

Florida Tech had defeated Saint Leo 4-2 on Oct. 3, and Coach Fidgi Haig was happy to have earned a pair of victories over the Lions in the regular season.

To win two games in one season against a strong team like Saint Leo is not something I imagined at the beginning of the season,” Haig said. “The way we battled and scored that final goal shows a lot of character that I’m sure we will use down the road. The defense and midfield played tremendously. It was good to see Teresa (Brantley) give us another strong effort and make things happen.

“Our 12th win does not mean anything right now. We have more important games ahead of us. We need to start focusing on our next match and reflect on what we have accomplished down the road.”

Saint Leo closes the regular season with a pair of SSC games on the road, travelling to face Nova Southeastern on Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Preps: Bloemke commits to Rollins College

Freedom High soccer standout Olivia Bloemke has verbally committed to Division II Rollins College for the 2010 season.

Bloemke scored seven goals and led Freedom with five assists a season ago, and will likely be a key on a Patriots team that returns 10 starters in the newly configured Class 5A-District 9.

With seven seniors on the Patriots squad, Bloemke will likely be joined by some teammates in the college ranks, with Freedom coach Chris Hinkle saying there are others that are looking at offers currently.

Rollins is currently ranked No.9 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of American Division II poll, and is in contention for a second straight Sunshine State Conference regular season title.

Polls: Despite wins, Bulls slip a place

A pair of victories against Florida Atlantic and Syracuse didn’t impress the voters in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, who dropped South Florida a further spot to No.13 in the Division I poll released on Tuesday afternoon.

The Bulls (9-2-2) saw Charlotte and Connecticut move ahead of them in the poll, while a loss by California dropped them below the Bulls. South Florida will face a Top 25 match-up on Wednesday night, as they host No.15 Dartmouth at the USF Soccer Stadium.

The University of Tampa also fell after their loss to Rollins last week, slipping to No.9 after its first loss of the season. The Tars, who themselves held the No.9 position, moved up to No.3 after their 3-2 victory over the Spartans.

College Women's Matchday: Saint Leo at No.17 Florida Tech

WHEN: Tuesday, 4 p.m., Rick Stottier Field

NEED TO KNOW: The Lions begin a final three-game road stint to end the season at No.17 Florida Tech, looking to rebound from a 4-1 defeat to Florida Southern on Saturday night.

In an oddity on the schedule, this is a non-conference conference game. The Panthers and Lions already met in their scheduled conference meeting this season, Florida Tech taking a 4-2 victory at University Field on Oct. 3 Seniors Teresa Brantley and Melissa Pyles took both of the conferences Players of the Week awards, Brantley winning the Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season.

The Lions had been on a three-game winning streak before Saturday’s setback, and will be looking for revenge after their defeat earlier in the season. That encounter saw Lions defender Dari Alcantara sent off for a pair of yellow cards, and the Lions fail to find their game consistently against a strong Panthers line-up, who held a 2-1 halftime lead, and expanded it to 4-1 before Hannah Beard pulled one back late.

Youth: Flames on verge of Region III Championship berth

Brandon Flames girls under-15 coach Randy Belli’s principal goal for his team when they began play in the Region III Premier League East in August was that the competition aid the development of their play, and for the side to gain experience playing some of the best teams in the Southeast.

Now, with just one game remaining in the season, the Flames could achieve a significant secondary goal. With a win over Space Coast on Oct. 31, the Flames would put themselves in position to finish second in the 12-team league, and gain automatic entry into the Region III Championships, to be held next summer in Baton Rouge, La.

The Flames picked up a win and a draw last weekend to put themselves a point behind the CSA Predators from North Carolina. The Predators have already completed their schedule, meaning a win against Space Coast would jump the Flames into second place. The only team that could then tie the Flames on points is the GSA Phoenix Red from Georgia, which has three games remaining. Belli said the team is just concentrating on getting the result it needs, putting pressure on GSA to close out with three wins.

“I looked at it for a second and was about to evaluate what the tiebreakers and everything were,” Belli said. “But then I just realized we have to win our game, they have to win their games, and we’ll see where it lies at that point.”

The Flames could have clinched their place if they had managed to earn a win against South Carolina’s CESA Premier, but despite controlling the game we unable to finish their chances in a 0-0 tie. The result was disappointing to Belli, who felt his side should have won, but he was still pleased with the way his side played. Fulfilling the principle goal of the season, Belli said he is very happy with the development the squad has shown as the league comes to an end.

“The kids have been playing good soccer throughout, and I think that’s what’s really prevailing,” Belli said. “They’re starting to make good decisions on the ball, and the tactical side of the game has really come out. When you play tough teams that pressure you and pin you in your half for a bit, you really have to be smart to manage it, and the players have really matured over the season, and that was really the goal of us getting into the league.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Colleges: Klotz, Eagle earn Big East honors

South Florida’s Chelsea Klotz and Boo Eagle were both been named to the Big East Honor Roll on Monday after helping the Bulls to two wins over the weekend, pushing the Bulls into second place in the Big East American division.

Klotz scored twice against Cincinnati on Sunday, including the game-winner in overtime, putting her tied for the team lead with seven goals.

Eagle, a freshman, played every minute of both wins against Louisville and Cincinnati, anchoring a Bulls defense that conceded only one goal over the pair of games.

South Florida is tied on points with first-placed Marquette in the American division, but the Golden Eagles hold the tiebreaker over the Bulls after their 2-1 win when the teams met earlier in the season.

The Bulls close the regular season with a final pair of road games this weekend, facing St. John’s on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. and Syracuse on Sunday at noon.