Savannah Jordan collapsed to her knees and stared at the ground as the final seconds of the match ticked down on the game clock.
The All-American forward began to weep, realizing that her career as a collegiate soccer player was finally over.
“It’s been a ride,” she said. “To look back at my freshman year and say I’d be sitting in this seat right now, I couldn’t imagine it.”
Jordan, along with seven fellow seniors, played their final match in Florida uniforms on Sunday afternoon, as the No. 1-seeded Gators lost to No. 4-seeded Auburn 3-1 at Dizney Stadium in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
UF struggled to convert opportunities into goals despite dominating time of possession and outshooting the Tigers 16-7. Auburn redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Le Beau made several diving stops on the way to recording six saves, thwarting Florida’s hopes of advancing to the Elite Eight for the second time in three years.
“They were amazingly good defensively,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We put a lot of pressure on them and they handled that really well.”
AU’s Brooke Ramsier scored first in the 26th minute after she blasted a shot from 20 yards away past UF sophomore goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese and into the top-left corner of the goal.
The Tigers' lead increased to two in the 62nd minute after UF sophomore defender Rachelle Smith pushed Auburn junior forward Kristen Dodson in the back on a breakaway, earning Smith a red card and Auburn a penalty kick opportunity that Bri Folds converted.
Florida bounced back momentarily, scoring less than a minute later from six yards away courtesy of senior forward Brooke Sharp.
Sharp’s goal wouldn’t be enough to propel the Gators back into the match, though, as Auburn shut down UF’s offense for the rest of the contest and sealed the victory with one more score in the 85th minute by Dodson.
“I didn’t feel like we played badly,” Burleigh said. “I thought we really controlled the tempo. I thought we had lots of opportunities. … Sometimes soccer is a funny game.”
With Florida’s season now over, the program will lose Jordan, a player who will go down as one of Florida's all-time greats. The Fayetteville, Georgia, native finished with a career statline of 81 goals, which ranks second in UF history behind Abby Wambach’s 96.
“It’s meant the world to me,” she said. “I appreciate everything that this program has done for me and this team.”
Sunday’s loss also means that the Gators have now failed to advance past the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament 12 times over the last 13 seasons.
But Jordan feels the next few years could be bright for her now-former team.
“I can’t wait to just watch it in the future as it continues to grow,” she said..
Savannah Jordan dribbles the ball during Florida's 5-2 win over Iowa State on Aug. 19 at James G. Pressly Stadium.