Tampa Bay Sports Day

USF Women’s Soccer Wins First American Conference Championship

A total of 110 minutes of play came down to five penalty kicks and one save.

The University of South Florida women’s soccer team captured its first-ever American Athletic Conference title by defeating nationally ranked No. 8 UCF, 5-3, in penalty kicks in Sunday’s championship match.

USF dominated the close scoring opportunities through the entire match. The Bulls had eight shots (four on goal) compared to three shots by the Knights in the first half, and had a 13-7 shot advantage at the end of regulation.

The Bulls’ defense denied numerous threats by the Knights and freshman Chyanne Dennis (Sunrise, Fla.) was outstanding, blocking shot after shot in front of the goal.

Senior Kat Elliott (Bradenton, Fla.), in her third American tournament championship, was poised and focused with seven saves. Elliott, the tournament’s most outstanding defensive player, was a hero for the Bulls in the final moments of the match. The Bulls had scored four penalty kicks, and UCF was up to shoot for its fourth. UCF’s leading goal scorer, senior Morgan Ferrara, took her spot. She shot chest high to Elliott’s left, while Elliott shifted and punched it out as the crowd erupted.

Redshirt sophomore defender Kelli Burney found the back of the net on the final shot to give USF the title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“I don’t think there are words for it,” said Elliott. “We’ve been to the championship game three times and didn’t make it in penalty kicks. I thought, ‘Senior year, it’s time to put it all on the field.'”

“It’s awesome. It’s what you work for all year, and what you want for the girls,” said Head coach Denise Schilte-Brown. “I feel super blessed. My family is here because it was at UCF. It’s amazing having my twins and my parents, and not many people get to coach with their husband. It’s a great feeling. I feel very blessed.”