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Monday, June 05, 2023

UF alumni returned for a record-setting night Friday, as sophomore McKenzie Barney now sits tied for the school record after scoring a goal in her seventh-consecutive home game.

Barney scored her record-setting goal five minutes into the second half off of a well-timed cross by outside defender Jazmyne Avant, which left Barney with an easy one-on-one situation, and she finished a well-placed shot to the far-right post.

Barney was one of six Gators with a goal as No. 7 UF (5-0) beat Jacksonville 6-0.

“Anything tied with (current record holder) Abby Wambach means a whole lot to me,” Barney said. “She’s a soccer god, and to be tied with her is an amazing accomplishment.”

Barney struggled in the first half, but the Gators still led 3-0 at the intermission.

“In the big picture of the season the solid bench play is very important,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “For them to get this experience is good as we move down the road.”

Junior Lindsay Thompson put in the first goal of the game off a through ball from Erika Tymrak.

“It felt good scoring,” Thompson said. “It seems like after that everything fell into place and I was glad I could do that for us.”

For the first 20 minutes, the Gators used their outside defenders, Avant and Nicky Kit, to advance the ball and draw defenders away from the playmakers up top.

The strategy caused Jacksonville (2-3) to focus on stopping the defenders, which opened the middle and allowed UF to overwhelm the center of the field with some quick give-and-go plays. The crisp passing allowed freshman Maggie Rodgers to score her first career goal in the closing seconds of the first half.

“My mom told me she had a feeling I would put one away tonight,” Rodgers said. “It was an amazing feeling. I was ready for another kick off and everybody else started to run inside. I didn’t even hear the clock counting down.”

UF now starts a tough five-game road trip, as it travels to in-state rival No. 5 FSU and No. 1 North Carolina. The Gators are 4-0 against in-state opponents heading into their matchup with the Seminoles.

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“We just want to be progressing as a team,” Burleigh said. “Last week we didn’t really feel like we were progressing. I’m really happy with the shut out, I think it says a lot about our teams defense, and I’m really happy with the way we finished. This game really helps us and shows that it’s a step in the right direction.”

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