The Dons snapped a two-game losing streak last Sunday with a 2-0 home victory over the St. Mary’s Gaels. USF had fallen to Santa Clara and No. 11 Pepperdine in their previous games, but bounced back to hold the Gaels scoreless at Negoesco Stadium.
The Dons (6-7-2) scored a goal in each half to seal the game against the Gaels (6-8-2). At the beginning of the game, USF’s offense was aggressive and its defense was tight. In the 27th minute, sophomore defender Jessica Nakae wove through traffic and took a cross from senior defender Abigail Phillips to get the score and give the Dons the lead going into halftime.
Both teams came out with energy in the second half, with USF looking to put the match away and St. Mary’s desperate for an equalizer. It was a close call in the 49th minute, when the Gaels’ Jessica Castillo fired a shot from 25 yards out. The ball soared over junior goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel, and bounced off the crossbar and onto the goal line before the Dons cleared it.
In the 81st minute, the Dons found senior forward Mackenzie Krieser breaking away towards the St. Mary’s goal. Krieser got the ball and took off down the left side with only one Gael to beat. With nimble footwork, she beat her defender and got the shot off at the top of the box for the score, giving the Dons a two-goal advantage and putting the match out of reach for the Gaels.
“We needed [this] win for our team’s confidence,” head coach Jim Millinder told usfdons.com. “I’m just looking one game at a time, because momentum is a funny thing. When you can gain momentum, you can beat a lot of people.”
Nakae and Krieser are now tied for the team lead with three goals apiece this season. Also, with the shutout, Schiffel earned her place in USF’s history books by tying the school record of 14 solo shutouts set in 1998 by Amy Voiland. Schiffel had two saves in the match.
With the win, the Dons’ record moved to 2-2-0 in West Coast Conference play. USF now continues its conference schedule on the road, taking on San Diego tonight at 7:00 p.m.