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Sunday, February 05, 2023
<p>Defender Rachelle Smith called a team meeting after the Gators gave up their third goal to Southern California Sunday night. </p>

Defender Rachelle Smith called a team meeting after the Gators gave up their third goal to Southern California Sunday night. 

Death, taxes and a scoreless Gators offense.

Few things are certain in college soccer, but over the last four games the failure of Florida’s offense to find the back of the net has become less of an anomaly and more of an inevitability.

The saga continued Sunday night, as an uninspired No. 22 Florida (2-3-1) fell to No. 7 USC 3-0 at Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Counting overtimes, UF has now been held scoreless in 12 straight periods.

The first half was a relatively drab affair, with each side producing just a few genuine chances. The tide of the match turned in the 66th minute when USC’s Leah Pruitt lofted a cross into the box from 20 yards out. Perhaps inadvertently, the ball sailed over Florida goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese and into the back corner of the net.

“The first 60 minutes was pretty decent,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “That first goal really got us down a little bit.”

Pruitt’s third goal of the year opened the floodgates for the Trojans. In the 80th minute, Savannah Demelo hit teammate Penelope Hocking on a perfect through ball. Hocking converted the pass into a goal with a lovely finish, putting it past Marckese to give USC a 2-0 lead.

Fewer than two minutes later, Southern California struck again. A mistake from UF forward Lais Araujo gave Demelo an open look on goal inside the penalty box. She didn’t miss it, rifling a shot into the back of the net.

With Florida on the ropes, senior defender Rachelle Smith called a team meeting to right the ship.

“When we have stuff like that, it's kind of like a reset for us," she said. "We can still try harder. That's kind of what we said."

Florida’s best chance to score came in the 24th minute when the ball fell to forward Madison Alexander following a corner kick. Alexander struck it well, and the ball looked destined for the back of the net before it was deflected away by a USC defender.

The 3-0 scoreline especially reflected the way the two sides played in the second half. Florida, playing its second game in three nights, did not look threatening and lacked pace offensively. The Gators registered just four shots on the night. Southern California took 13, 10 of which came in the second half, opposed to UF’s one.

Florida will have a few days to rest before taking on No. 4 FSU on Friday in Tallahassee.

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Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano and contact him at scampisano@alligator.org.

Defender Rachelle Smith called a team meeting after the Gators gave up their third goal to Southern California Sunday night. 

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