TAMPA – South Florida’s women extended their undefeated streak to five games, and picked up another point in Big East play, but were unable to break down the tough defense of No.13 Cincinnati as the two teams played to a 0-0 tie at the USF Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
“I think we worked hard as a team,” Bulls goalkeeper Mallori Lofton-Malachi said. “Or course we would have liked to score, but we got a point against a ranked team, a good Big East team. In the Big East, when you come out with a point, it’s almost like a win, so I don’t have any problem with it.”
Lofton-Malachi recorded four saves for her fifth shutout of the season, and was a dominant presence in her penalty area all game, catching cleanly to snuff out Rutgers’ set piece opportunities. Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown said she thought Lofton-Malachi’s confidence in net reflected on the team as a whole, as the Bulls were for good periods of the game visibly the better team.
“Mallori was really good today again,” Schilte-Brown said. “I think that we felt Mallori’s confidence the whole game, and that continued, and that was pretty exciting.”
While the Bulls were able to control large spells of possession, with Valorie O’Brien and Bahar Sansar doing an excellent job in the center of midfield, the Scarlet Knights’ defense sat deep for the most-part, not allowing much space for Chelsea Klotz, Noelle Pineiro and substitute Kelly Campbell to find room in behind them. Taylor Patterson also threatened down the left side, twice appearing to have broken the Scarlet Knights’ offside trap early in the second half, but both times drawing a whistle.
That spell of play early in the second half, which also saw a cross by Patterson deflect off the top of the crossbar, had Schilte-Brown thinking a goal was forthcoming for her side.
“I felt like we were moving the ball and doing the right things, and we had more energy on the Sunday again than the other team,” Schilte-Brown said.
Rutgers did threaten later in the game, and in both overtime periods, but South Florida’s defense proved as hard to crack as the Scarlet Knights’.
The performance left Lofton-Malachi feeling good about where the team is as it prepares for another pair of home games next weekend.
“I think we’ve got something special this year,” Lofton-Malachi said. “I mean, you look back and we played Seton Hall my freshman year and we lost 2-1, 3-1, I don’t remember. We played Rutgers my freshman year and lost 5-0, so we’ve turned around and beaten Seton hall and tied Rutgers, a ranked team, it’s working. I think we may have finally got it.”