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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Florida looks to upset against No. 23 Auburn

Unranked Gators begin two-game road trip against the Tigers

Florida goalie Alexa Goldberg makes a save against Kentucky on Sept. 23.
Florida goalie Alexa Goldberg makes a save against Kentucky on Sept. 23.

October hasn’t been friendly to the Florida Gators soccer team. 

The 2021 regular season draws to a close, and the unranked Florida Gators find themselves in need of a huge momentum turn. The team slipped into a three-match losing skid, and the Gators now hold a 2-3-1 conference record with the SEC tournament on the horizon at the end of the month.

But a momentum swing doesn’t come toll-free, and Florida will have to start its shift on the road against the stout No. 23 Auburn Tigers. The Tigers are 7-1 at home and 4-2 against SEC opponents. The team looks for its third straight win after toppling Mississippi State and LSU.

The last four meetings between Auburn and Florida have been decided by a single goal, including a monumental match in the 2018 SEC tournament, when the Gators stole the match in penalty kicks. Florida won the grudge match, 2-1, in October 2019 when the Tigers visited Gainesville.

Junior Sydney Richards and sophomore Mallory Mooney lead the Tigers on the pitch, as both emerged as the top goal scorers with five scores apiece. Sophomore midfielder Anna Haddock proved herself as a shot taker but has only recorded two goals. However, Haddock has found the sweet spots in the defense for her teammates and tallied 10 assists this year.

Florida goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg is no stranger to an offensive flurry, but the sophomore has remained tall between the sticks. Goldberg started for all 14 games this year and allows 1.59 goals a game on 225 total shots faced. The final defensive front, led by senior Georgia Eaton-Collins, changed gears halfway through the year, as Eaton-Collins recorded a deflection in the past three losses.

Graduate student Kit Loferski sits atop of the UF stat lines with four goals, but she’s failed to notch a goal or assist in three straight matches. Graduate forward Madison Alexander scored in Florida’s previous match against Missouri with senior defender Taylor Baksay adding a second score.

The two-game road trip starts off with Auburn and kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The match will be broadcasted on ESPNU.

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352.

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