A key halftime adjustment helped South Florida score twice in the first five minutes after the break, and gave the Bulls a 3-0 victory against Louisville on Friday night at Cardinal Park.
Despite holding a 1-0 halftime lead thanks to a goal by Taylor Patterson, the Bulls (7-5-3, 4-2-2 Big East) were outshot 9-2 by the Cardinals (4-10-0, 1-7-0) before the break as South Florida struggled to get the ball wide. Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown said she thought the Cardinals had prepared well for what the Bulls were going to try and do.
“They prepared for what we were going to offer them well, and we did tell the girls what to expect, but they didn’t think they executed it well,” Schilte-Brown said by phone. “It was like a wake-up call in the locker room, we said our wide midfielders were where the open areas are, and as they have to come out and defend those areas they won’t be able to press as well, so when you win the ball it has to be one-touch out wide instead of trying to take it down, control it and play it out wide.”
The Bulls executed to perfection, as Gina Pacheco scored her second goal in as many games in the 46th minute, and Valorie O’Brien made it 3-0 in the 48th to put the game away.
“We just came out in the second half, immediately went out to our wide players and that caused a lot of problems for them,” Schilte-Brown said. “And we continued to hammer that throughout the half, and it continued to be successful."
Pacheco may have benefitted most from the adjustment, as she was able to find more space in the second half to create chances from central midfield. Schilte-Brown said she was pleased with the way Pacheco took her goal, and how she was a threat after halftime.
“We opened the field giving her space to work,” Schilte-Brown said. “In the first half we were very congested in there, and that negated any opportunity for her to be successful in the middle of the field. She took her opportunity and finished it, and probably could have had a second one similar to (her goal) against UConn, so she did great.”
The Bulls next play on Sunday when they face a Cincinnati team that has just two wins in Big East play after a 1-0 loss to Marquette on Friday night. The Bulls are now fourth in the Big East American division standings, but are tied on points with West Virginia and Marquette, and trail top-placed St. John’s by only two points.