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Friday, May 20, 2022
<p>UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh. </p>

UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh. 

Coach Becky Burleigh and Florida’s soccer team have struggled against USC in recent years. They came out victorious in the first three meetings between the two powerhouses but lost the next two by a combined score of 4-0.

UF had the chance to take down the No. 5 Trojans for the first time since 2003 on Thursday night, but USC downed the Gators in a 3-1 win at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. 

“I think this is a game that we can really, really grow from,” coach Becky Burleigh said in a press release after the defeat. “I’m glad we are playing this kind of schedule because it will really help us in the long run.”

The Trojans (3-0) opened the scoring in the 30th minute when forward Tara McKeown powered through a scrum in front of UF senior goalkeeper Susi Espinoza’s net.

It only took six minutes for USC to score again, as midfielder Arlie Jones capitalized on a rebound inside the box to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.

Florida (2-1) got on the board in the 42nd minute after a jaw-dropping finish from senior midfielder Alex Stubblebine. She threaded the ball between a defender’s legs and launched a 22-yard shot into the top left corner.

The last time Stubblebine found the back of the net was on Oct. 30, 2016, in a 2-1 victory over Temple during her freshman year at Cincinnati. Stubblebine transferred to UF in 2017 but sat out her sophomore campaign after tearing her ACL in the preseason. In 2018, the 5-foot-6 midfielder played a combined 45 minutes in six appearances. Stubblebine had not scored for the Gators before Thursday’s fixture.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “I can’t believe it. Growing up, I never thought I’d be playing here, and to be able to score is really awesome.”

USC put the game out of reach in the 60th minute when forward Penelope Hocking assisted McKweon for her second goal of the night and fourth of the season, making it a 3-1 game.

Burleigh pointed out that the opportunities were there for Florida in the second half, claiming the Gators were “unlucky” not to tie or even win the game.

Despite not scoring in the last 45 minutes, Burleigh was more concerned with the team’s defense on set pieces.

“We gave up three goals on restarts: two throw-ins and one free kick,” she said. “Throw-ins are especially something that we work on, so that was a little disappointing.”

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Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bryan_2712. Contact him at bmatamoros@alligator.org.

UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh. 

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