TAMPA, Fla. — The USF women's soccer team finished the regular season with a record of 7-0-2. It's the program's first unbeaten regular season since 1998. The Bulls earned 12 conference awards.
Forward Sydny Nasello was named AAC Offensive Player of the Year, while Chyanne Dennis earned the title of AAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. The league’s coaches voted Sydney Martinez as the conference’s goalkeeper of the year. Head coach Denise Schilte-Brown and her staff were voted as the AAC Coaching Staff of the Year.
The team got the good news just before the end of the practice, and Schilte-Brown told the team that the awards were a reflection of everyone's hard work. Her players nodded their heads in agreement.
"It’s an honor to receive an award. It’s a privilege to play on this team," said Dennis. "For sure getting recognition feels good, but like they said, it’s a team effort, and I couldn’t do it without everyone."
Martinez said hosting the conference tournament means even more after going through a season affected by a pandemic. She said despite the limited attendance, Corbett Field still feels like home.
"With the limits on the amount of people that could come, it was very interesting in the beginning," she said, after practice. "The fans have been amazing, and so loud and energetic. It’s felt like it’s been normal."
Nasello led the team in goals (4) and assists (5). She admits she hasn't always been a confident player. Nasello even got the word "confidence" tattooed on her forearm, using it as a reminder to always trust her skills.
"I was at a place in my life, going through whatever, and I didn’t walk around with my head held high all the time," Nasello said. "If I’m losing the ball I can’t put my head down. It’s like ‘Okay, I’m confident in my abilities on and off the pitch,' so don’t forget it."
The Bulls are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and a conference title could earn them the chance to host a regional. Schilte-Brown says she has to keep her players in check from time to time, but she's never been worried about her team looking past any opponents.
"Everything rests on this game. We cannot be happy with our body of work and then come out and not be prepared and fight with everything that we have," Schilte-Brown said.
The top-seed Bulls face fourth-seed East Carolina Thursday night at 7 p.m. The winner will face the winner of Cincinnati and Memphis in Saturday's championship game at 2 p.m. All games will be shown on ESPN+.