Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Sunday, June 23, 2024

Gators goalie Susi Espinoza has an aggressive style of play and it’s paying off

<p>UF goalkeeper Susi Espinoza has been a key part to Florida's 5-1 start to the 2017 campaign. In six games, she has a .778 save percentage.&nbsp;</p>

UF goalkeeper Susi Espinoza has been a key part to Florida's 5-1 start to the 2017 campaign. In six games, she has a .778 save percentage. 

After a feverish ending to a matchup with Stanford that saw a barrage of shots and crosses into the Gators box in the final minutes, UF goalie Susi Espinoza had one more obstacle to face: the press.

Before talking to the media after the 3-2 win over the Cardinal on Aug. 25, Espinoza said she was no good at answering questions.

When a reporter asked her what was going through her mind at the end of the match, however, Espinoza gave a fairly straightforward answer.

“Don’t mess up, obviously,” she said.

Espinoza’s tentative nature toward answering questions off the field does not extend into the goalie box. She often challenges attackers coming at her. She races into their path, exposing the net behind her and usually forces the opposition off the ball, or she clears the danger entirely.

“I’m always ready to go out when I need to,” Espinoza said.

When Florida’s season began, Kaylan Marckese was slated to start at goalie. The junior from St. Petersburg, Florida, was in goal for every minute of every game last season, allowing 1.13 goals per game with a .722 save percentage. But a hand injury suffered before the season opener forced Espinoza into the starting lineup.

The Gators may not be worse off for it. Through six regular-season games, Espinoza is allowing just 0.66 goals per game and has a .778 save percentage. It may be a small sample size, but what the newly anointed starter lacks in game experience, she makes up for in confidence.

“I’ve played with some of (my teammates) for a couple of years now,” Espinoza said. “I knew they were going to have my back.”

Coach Becky Burleigh said she’s also comfortable with Espinoza. However, she would not let on about Espinoza’s future once Marckese fully recovers from her injury.

“That’s very speculative,” Burleigh said before the team made its road trip to Seattle this past weekend. “Let’s wait and see when (Marckese) comes back.”

The Gators returned from their West Coast travels having lost one game and won the other, both 1-0 contests. Espinoza saved five total shots on goal in games against the University of Washington and Portland. She returns to Gainesville tied for second in the SEC in shutouts with three on the young season.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

The Gators face Florida State Friday night at 7 at James G. Pressly Stadium. The shortest keeper of the four on UF’s roster, Espinoza will more than likely be in goal, all 5-foot-6 inches of her.

As for any changes going forward, Espinoza just hopes she can reassure her coaches of her ability to continue her brand of goalkeeping.

“They were a little scared,” Espinoza said after the Syracuse game, which featured more of her aggressive tendencies. “I like to keep them on their toes, you know?”

You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at mmcmullen@alligator.org.

UF goalkeeper Susi Espinoza has been a key part to Florida's 5-1 start to the 2017 campaign. In six games, she has a .778 save percentage. 

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.