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Thursday, May 23, 2024

UF soccer downs William & Mary in second round of NCAA Tourney

<p>UF forward Savannah Jordan chases after the ball during Florida's 3-2 win against Oklahoma State on Sept. 4, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium.</p>

UF forward Savannah Jordan chases after the ball during Florida's 3-2 win against Oklahoma State on Sept. 4, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

On Friday night, Florida moved one step closer to playing for the program’s second NCAA Championship.

Led by a dominant offensive performance, No. 5 Florida (19-3-1) defeated William & Mary (14-5-3) 5-2 at Donald R. Dizney stadium in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Florida will play Duke on Sunday in the Round of 16.

Both teams traded turnovers throughout the first half but Florida jumped out to an early lead in the shot category, finishing the half with 12 shots to the Tribe’s two.

The seven-goal evening started in the 40th minute when Florida’s Meggie Dougherty Howard sunk a shot in the top left corner of the net past an outstretched arm of the William & Mary goalkeeper.

“I’ve been practicing shooting lately,” Dougherty Howard said. “I just had taken a look over my shoulder and saw that I had a lot of space, so I just tried to turn with my first touch and hit the corner.”

The Gators took the 1-0 lead into halftime and started attacking the Tribe’s defense immediately when play resumed.

Dougherty Howard was part of the second scoring play for the Gators in the 59th minute, assisting on a Savannah Jordan goal that marked the forward’s most productive goal-scoring collegiate season.

After the game, Jordan said she never would have thought the season would lead to the Gators finding postseason success.

“I remember our first game here. I had kind of a little panic attack in the beginning of the season,” Jordan said. “Coming in with that many freshmen in a whole new environment and a whole new team, it was a bit of a different feel. I had no idea that we would go this far.”

Jordan was able to repay her teammates just a minute later in the 60th minute when she took the ball down the sideline past a defender and crossed the ball to freshman Sarah Troccoli who placed it in the back of the net.

The Gators would add to their 3-0 lead in the 71st minute when Jordan scored her second goal of the match.

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But the Tribe didn’t give up easily, and in the 76th minute earned a penalty kick following a tackle in the box by the Gators’ Rachelle Smith.

William & Mary’s Rachel Moore beat a diving Kaylan Marckese for the Tribe’s first goal of the match.

Florida would answer in resilient fashion in the following minute when junior midfielder Pamela Begic took a shot from near the top of the 18-yard box that zipped just over the goalkeeper’s fingertips.

The Gators would lead 5-1 until the 87th minute of regulation when William & Mary scored their second goal of the match on a bouncing ball that squeezed through the Florida defense and past Marckese.

William & Mary coach John Daly said that the fact that the Gators were able to use the width of the field was ultimately the difference in the match.

“Them having the ball in the middle of the field didn’t bother me, they can have it there as long as they want,” Daly said. “When they started getting behind us on the outside, that’s when trouble arises.

The Gators move on to the third round of the NCAA Tournament and will face Duke at 2 p.m. Duke beat Florida Gulf Coast 2-0 on Friday prior to the Florida game.

Coach Becky Burleigh said the team will focus on ball possession against Duke and that building an early lead in Friday’s match allowed her to use the bench, which will help the Gators on Sunday.

“It’s not often in a NCAA game that you can go that deep, and we were really happy to do that,” Burleigh said. “For us it’s always going to be about keeping the ball. When we have the ball, they don’t. That’s our best defense.”

Follow Ryan Summers on Twitter @RyanSummers18

UF forward Savannah Jordan chases after the ball during Florida's 3-2 win against Oklahoma State on Sept. 4, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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