Shouts of frustration and disbelief rang throughout the Turner Soccer Complex. Moments earlier, during the 54th minute, Florida junior midfielder Briana Solis saw her free kick deflected into the net by a Georgia defender, breaking the scoreless deadlock and giving Florida the lead.
No. 10 Florida (9-2, 3-1 SEC) moved into a tie for third in the SEC standings after going to Athens and defeating Georgia (4-7-1, 0-4 SEC) by a final score of 3-0. The win was the program’s 11th straight over the Bulldogs and proves critical with conference foes Missouri and Vanderbilt due up next on the schedule.
An offensive surge in the second half led UF to victory, but it appeared the team’s road struggles were haunting it in the first half.
Florida failed to create anything early against the physically imposing Georgia side, which collected a total of 12 fouls on the night.
For the third straight match the Gators didn’t register a corner kick in the first half, as they were unable to keep the ball in the Georgia half for extended periods of time.
They were also outshot 5-4 by the Bulldogs, who developed the only dangerous opportunities of the half.
However, in the second half Florida began to heavily press the Georgia attack, creating turnovers on defense that led to an influx of scoring chances.
“We just did a better job of offering offensively for one another,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said in a release. “Once we did that, combined with I think tiring them out in the first half, that was a lot for Georgia to handle. That’s when we got our breakthrough.”
The first came on set pieces by Solis, who opened the scoring in the 54th minute and assisted via a corner for UF’s second goal in the 61st minute. UGA goalkeeper Louise Hogrell poorly dealt with Solis’ corner kick, redirecting it in front of the goal for senior defender Cassie Owens to pounce on. Owens doubled the Florida lead, scoring her first collegiate goal.
Freshman forward Madison Alexander also scored her first goal as a Gator, which came in the 87th minute. Alexander nicked the ball away from the Bulldog defense on a weakly played back pass to Hogrell, sending the ball into an empty net to seal the match.
“All week, we’ve been working on pressing so it is nice for it to pay off,” Alexander said. “So exciting to get my first goal.”
Burleigh was happy to have three players earn their first goals.
“It was really exciting to see three different people score who haven’t scored before (this season),” Burleigh said. “That was really cool.”