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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Gators and ‘Dores fight to scoreless draw to open conference play

Florida and Vanderbilt drew 0-0 in Nashville Friday night behind Goldberg’s seven saves.

Alivia Gonzalez, pictured during her sophomore year, led the Gators with three shots in their conference opener against Vanderbilt Friday.
Alivia Gonzalez, pictured during her sophomore year, led the Gators with three shots in their conference opener against Vanderbilt Friday.

Florida and Vanderbilt settled for a scoreless draw in Nashville, Tennessee, to open their respective conference campaigns Friday in a match dominated by the home Commodores.

The contest started slowly, with neither squad registering a serious chance in the first 15 minutes.

But the ‘Dores settled in more quickly than the Gators, coming inches away from the lead on a curling shot from midfielder Raegen Kelley’s curling shot, but Florida sophomore keeper Alexa Goldberg parried it around the left post to prevent an early goal. 

Florida struggled to retain possession and progress the ball throughout the half. A similarly uninspiring Vanderbilt attack tried slowly chipping away at the Gators defense through volume rather than quality, controlling the ball for much of the opening frame.

The rainy Nashville afternoon that preceded the match proved game-changing, as both squads struggled to control and transfer the ball across the soaked pitch. 

The half ended goalless, but Vanderbilt still looked the more dangerous of the two sides.

The Commodores intensified their pressure early in the second half, forcing a goalline save from senior midfielder Shaye Seyffart, who had tracked back to assist Goldberg on the far post.

Physical play defined the second-half action. The officiating crew saw fit to let the game continue through rough challenges and heavy collisions between the conference foes.

Florida survived regulation without conceding behind seven saves for Goldberg, and both sidelines prepared for overtime.

Vanderbilt’s first corner of the extension and their 11th of the match marked the only real chance for either side in the first half of overtime. After a few successive crosses into Goldberg’s area, the danger was neutralized and the half ended still scoreless.

The second half of overtime featured more belligerent pressure from Vanderbilt, who created a number of chances in Florida’s box, all of which Goldberg handled or cleared by her back line. 

Neither side showed the quality necessary to finish off the match with a goal.

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The hard fought contest, despite its lack of scoring, was indicative of the physical style of play for which SEC soccer is notorious for. 

Junior forward Alivia Gonzalez was Florida’s most potent attacking threat, registering three shots. On the other side of the pitch, Vandy midfielders Kelley and Maddie Elwell caused the Gators defense the most trouble, combining for 5 shots.

Once again, Florida found itself on the wrong side of the shot totals, recording just 8 attempts at goal to the Commodores’ 19. However, despite the lopsided reality of the affair, head coach Tony Amato and his team leave Nashville with a point in their first conference match.

The Gators take the home field again in just two days to finish their non-conference season against North Florida. Sunday’s match kicks off at 6 p.m. from Donald R. Dizney Stadium, the match can be streamed through SEC Network+.

Contact Ryan Zehnder at Follow him on Twitter @ryan_zehnder.

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