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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Volunteers overpower Gators in dominant 2-0 win

Florida falls to 2-2-1 in SEC play

Florida sophomore Maddy Rhodes photographed during a game against Kentucky on Sept. 23.
Florida sophomore Maddy Rhodes photographed during a game against Kentucky on Sept. 23.

The Volunteers handed the Gators its second loss of SEC play on Thursday night in Knoxville, Tennessee behind forward Claudia Dipasupil’s first-half goal on a penalty kick. 

The loss extends the Gators’ losing streak to the Volunteers to four matches, Tennessee’s most consecutive wins in the rivalry’s history.

The Volunteers put forth a dominant performance, and they averaged one shot every 3.75 minutes for the match.

The Gators failed to advance the ball into the Vols’ half for long periods during the match. The Florida defense played well under the consistent Tennessee pressure but couldn’t muster any counterattacks.

Sophomore midfielder Nicole Vernis fouled UT freshman Taylor Huff 20 minutes into the contest to set up a penalty. Dipasupil calmly slotted the shot out of reach of sophomore Florida goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg to give Tennessee the lead.

Florida played almost entirely on its own side of the pitch for almost the entire night, surrendering 14 shots with eight on goal in the opening period. Tennessee earned nine corner kicks in the first 45 minutes, enough for one every 5 minutes. 

Florida was fortunate to head into the locker room down just one goal without a concession during open play. But Tennessee’s consistent possession continued in the second half, and Florida failed to find any answers.

Freshman Jordan Fusco scored Tennessee’s second of the night seven minutes into the second period. She received the ball on her left foot on the left side of the box in space. As Goldberg adjusted to Fusco’s position, shifting right in her goal, Fusco switched the ball to her right foot and guided a curling shot around Florida’s keeper, catching Goldberg in motion to leave her no chance.

With 15 minutes to play, junior midfielder Syd Kennedy picked up her second yellow card of the match, dropping Florida down to 10 players for the remainder of the fixture.

Her departure was the final nail in the coffin for the Gators, who could barely advance the ball to attempt a chance at goal for the rest of the match.

Tennessee finished the match with 24 shots to Florida’s seven and stifled the Gators’ attack all night. The Volunteers saw the best defending strategy as constant attacking pressure, preventing Florida from developing quality chances by merely keeping possession from them. 

The Gators return home to Gainesville to face Missouri on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff from Donald R. Dizney Stadium is expected at 1 p.m. and the game can be streamed live through SEC Network+.

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Contact Ryan Zehnder at Follow him on Twitter @ryan_zehnder.

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