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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Gators move soccer game to Daytona Beach to avoid Richard Spencer event

<p>Becky Burleigh&#x27;s announced her retirement as UF&#x27;s head soccer coach after 26 years at the helm</p>

Becky Burleigh's announced her retirement as UF's head soccer coach after 26 years at the helm

Thursday’s game against Kentucky (7-10, 2-5 SEC), previously scheduled to be played at James G. Pressly Stadium at 6 p.m., has been moved as a result of the expected turnout of both supporters and protesters at the Richard Spencer speaking engagement. The match will now be played in Daytona Beach at Embry-Riddle University's soccer field at 5 p.m. Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said he appreciated all parties involved for understanding.

“I’d like to thank Embry-Riddle Athletics Director John Phillips for agreeing to accommodate the teams and this match,” Stricklin said in a release. “This is an unusual request and we are grateful that Embry-Riddle is welcoming this event to their campus.”

Spencer is scheduled to speak at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Parts of Hull Road and Bledsoe Drive, as well as Southwest 34th Street between Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest 20th Avenue, will be closed off to traffic between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The team itself is focused on bouncing back against Kentucky.

When the No. 10 Gators (11-4, 5-2 SEC) lost to Auburn (7-4-3, 4-1-2 SEC) on Sunday, coach Becky Burleigh said the match was “frustrating.”

Burleigh wasn’t angry with a lack of physical play or effort on her team’s part. In fact, she said her squad played well.

Despite getting shut out in the previous two games, coach Becky Burleigh said she sees no reason to panic just yet.

“The mood of the team has been good,” Burleigh said. “Obviously, we’re not excited with either result, but sometimes soccer’s a funny game.”

Back on the practice field Tuesday, the Gators were missing a stalwart on their back line. Kristen Cardano, who was averaging 86.4 minutes played per game, is out for the rest of the year with a left ACL injury. Burleigh said the loss was tough, but that her players were adjusting to Cardano’s absence.

“I thought Parker (Roberts) did a good job,” Burleigh said. “It’s just going to be one of those things you move forward with, and it’s an opportunity for other people.”

One strategy Burleigh said would help with the transition was increased communication among her players. She said that a lack of talking to each other was a key lesson to be learned from the Auburn matchup.

Roberts, who played all 90 minutes on the back line against Auburn as opposed to her usual spot at midfield, echoed what Burleigh preached about finishing chances near the net.

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“I think that we have a lot of motivation right now to bounce back because we played really well against Auburn,” Roberts said. “Becky made a good point. She said, ‘These losses don’t define us.'”

Florida has three matches left on its SEC schedule, including two against top-three SEC programs in Tennessee and South Carolina, before beginning play in the SEC Tournament on Oct. 30.

You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at

Becky Burleigh's UF team was shutout for the third-straight game Sunday when it played South Carolina in Columbia. 

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