Women's soccer: Offensive surge lifts Bulls past Memphis
In the wake of consecutive conference losses that injured both their psyche and RPI, USF's women's soccer team returned home Friday in search of some badly needed mojo.
They found it in triplicate.
The Bulls (8-4-3, 3-3-0) scored three times in an eight-minute span, including twice in 53 seconds early in the second half, to pull away for a 3-1 triumph against Memphis (9-6-0, 2-4-0) in a critical American Athletic Conference match.
USF seeks to finish the year unbeaten at Corbett Stadium when it hosts Rutgers on Sunday.
"Coming off two tough losses that we thought we certainly were good enough to win...this was important for us," said Bulls assistant Jason Dowiak, whose club fell to Louisville and Cincinnati on the road last weekend.
"I think we were tied (in the conference) with Memphis coming into this weekend and getting a leg up on them was huge."
On a night that began with a summer-style evening shower, the Bulls' offensive deluge never relented. They finished with a 17-11 shot advantage, and 10-3 lead after one half.
But Memphis scored first, on senior Christabel Oduro's breakaway on a Kaitlyn Atkins through ball 3 1/2 minutes into the match. Olivia Chance scored the equalizer on a left-side breakaway six minutes before halftime.
A minute into the second half, USF took the lead for good on Sarah Miller's 10-yard blast from the right side. Fifty-three seconds later, Demi Stokes scored on a 15-yard shot courtesy of an assist from Newsome High alumnus Jackie Simpson.
"Getting early pressure on Memphis was a big deal for us," Dowiak said. "We had a couple of real early chances, and luckily after going down I think the girls got settled in even more."
An encore Sunday could really spike the Bulls' postseason hopes. Memphis and Rutgers entered the week 22nd and 60th, respectively, in the NCAA's RPI rankings. USF stood at 68.