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USF women fall in AAC soccer tourney final

As conference regular season champs, the Bulls remain an NCAA Tournament lock
USF freshman Olivia Cooke (left) and the Bulls managed only seven shots on goal in Sunday's loss to Memphis. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
USF freshman Olivia Cooke (left) and the Bulls managed only seven shots on goal in Sunday's loss to Memphis. (JOEY KNIGHT | Times)
Published Nov. 4, 2018

Evidently, the inexplicable lethargy that overtook USF's football team Saturday against Tulane was contagious.

Less than 24 hours after the Bulls' humiliating 41-15 defeat at Raymond James Stadium, USF's top-seeded women's soccer team (14-3) also was dominated on its home field, falling 3-0 to Memphis in the American Athletic Conference tournament final.

The defeat was the Bulls' worst of the season, and first at home. For the match, USF was outshot, 12-7.

"It started in warm-up. I just felt like the energy was off," said Bulls coach Denise Schilte-Brown, virtually echoing the postgame sentiments of Charlie Strong from the previous night.

"The speed of reaction when we were going into tackles we were almost, it felt like, saving ourselves I would say. I don't know where that mentality came from."

No. 2-seeded Memphis (16-3) got its first goal six minutes into the match from Canadian freshman Clarissa Larisey and never looked back. Larisey's breakaway goal in the 53rd minute nearly sealed things.

"Nobody did it intentionally," Schilte-Brown said. "These girls are passionate, they care about their team. Nobody steps on the field not wanting to give their best, but we were definitely off."

Unlike its football counterparts, Schilte-Brown's club still has significant stakes for which to play. As a top-20 program (16th by United Soccer Coaches) and the AAC regular season champ, USF is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. The tourney selection show is Monday.

"I think knowing that you're in the NCAA [Tournament], sometimes it can be a challenge to keep your mind focused on the task at hand," Schilte-Brown said, "and I think we were not ready to produce the energy that we needed to compete with a team like Memphis."