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Friday, September 29, 2023
Parker Roberts
Parker Roberts

Redshirt junior midfielder Parker Roberts stepped up to the penalty spot and saw someone she hadn’t seen all night: backup Florida State goalkeeper Brooke Bollinger.

Bollinger came into the game after Caroline Jeffers, FSU’s starting goalkeeper, was given a red card in the 80th minute for a foul in the box.

This was Roberts’ chance to tie the game at 2-2 and potentially send the game to overtime, but Bollinger had different plans.

The backup goalkeeper dove to her right and saved Roberts’ penalty kick to give No. 6 Florida State a 2-1 victory over the Gators on Friday night at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

“These games never fail to disappoint,” coach Becky Burleigh said in a release after the defeat. “Every Florida-Florida State game is going to be one like this. Great match for the fans, great environment, the band, the sell out — everything about it was first class.”

FSU midfielder Yujie Zhao almost gave her team the lead in the fourth minute, but her header sailed just over UF senior goalkeeper Susi Espinoza’s goal.

Zhao took command of the midfield in the early stages of the game and orchestrated several opportunities for Florida State (3-2) throughout the first half. Florida (2-3), however, stood strong at the back and prevented the 2018 ACC Freshman of the Year from inflicting any damage.

The Gators struggled offensively in the opening 45 minutes, as junior forward Deanne Rose missed her second-consecutive game due to a hamstring injury. 

Florida’s best effort in the first half came at the 36:22 mark when sophomore midfielder Cassidy Lindley’s sliding shot went wide of the post. Lindley showed her frustration with the misfire, slamming her fist against the ground before getting back to her feet.

UF’s attack was more electric in the second half, though.

The Gators opened the scoring in the 53rd minute after FSU’s attempted clearance landed perfectly for senior midfielder Tess Sapone, who brought the ball down and hammered it home.

Florida State equalized the score in the 57th minute after a lapse in concentration from Espinoza led to an easy goal for forward Kristen McFarland. Espinoza stopped playing because she thought an offsides whistle would be blown, but the flag stayed down and McFarland pounced on the mistake.

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The Seminoles took a 2-1 lead in the 71st minute when Zhao finally broke through Florida’s defense, thanks to an assist from midfielder Jaelin Howell.

UF was primed to send the game to overtime after it was awarded a penalty kick in the 80th minute, but Roberts’ attempt was saved by Bollinger, ultimately handing Florida its third-straight loss.

“We put up a good fight and personally it was a tough loss,” Sapone said. “We learn from these mistakes and move on.”

Contact Bryan Matamoros at and follow him on Twitter @bryan_2712.

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