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Monday, April 22, 2024

Gators come back to win after conceding first goal to LSU

The UF soccer team has developed a habit coach Becky Burleigh would like to break.

For the fifth time this season, the No. 7 Gators conceded the first goal and were forced to come from behind to escape with a win.

After giving up a goal to LSU in the first half, UF needed two second-period points to leave Baton Rouge with a 2-1 victory Sunday and end the Tigers' 18-game home winning streak.

"When we went into the locker room at halftime, we said, 'We have been here before, but just saying that isn't going to get us out of this hole. We have to change some of the things we are doing,'" Burleigh said. "Our team did a good job at changing the mistakes we were making."

The Gators (15-2-1, 10-0-0 Southeastern Conference) did not possess the ball in the first half the way their coach would have liked, so they changed that - quickly.

Less than two minutes into the new half, senior Ameera Abdullah scored off passes from freshman midfielder Tahnai Annis and sophomore defender Nicky Kit.

"When we talk about what we need to change, change it and get results from it, that gives the team confidence to know if they keep doing that, they are going to have a chance to win the game," Burleigh said.

Kit came off the backline again to assist in Annis' go-ahead score.

As part of a defense that gets involved in the attack all the time, Kit has been the most noticeable of the defenders on the stat sheet. The two assists were her fourth and fifth of the season, moving her into a tie with Annis for third on the team in the category.

Her play is getting noticed by other teams and brings back memories of one of Burleigh's former players.

"(Kit) is definitely feared by other teams," Burleigh said. "Our backs getting forward is a big part of our game, and the fact that she is scoring goals and getting assists from that position is reminiscent of (former All-American and Canadian national team player) Melanie Booth, which is a good role model to have."

Kit's production has helped get the Gators within one game of going undefeated in SEC play. With the regular-season title clinched and the Gators in prime position for a good spot in the NCAA Tournament, the undefeated conference season will motivate them at South Carolina on Thursday.

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"When you make goals at the beginning of the year, you talk about winning the SEC," Burleigh said. "It seems so far off, and there is so much to do before it happens, but we have already realized that.

"Now, our team has decided to take it a step further."

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