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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Postseason magic disappears for Florida

Tennessee downs the Gators, 5-2, in the second round of SEC tournament

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

Tennessee forward Jaida Thomas chipped a shot in the final minute of the second match in the SEC tournament versus Florida. With a quick shimmy and shake around UF defenders Georgia Eaton-Collins and Cameron Hall, the Volunteer earned her second score and forced a dagger into the backs of Florida.

After cashing in a penalty kick victory against Vanderbilt on Sunday, the post-season magic for the Florida Gators was washed away, 5-2, by the No. 12 Tennessee Volunteers Tuesday in Orange Beach, Alabama

The Volunteers ran away with the match late in the second half, scoring three late goals to crush Florida’s hopes. 

Thomas landed the first strike of the match in the 17th minute of play after she took advantage of a costly Florida turnover at the midfield. 

Senior defender Abby Burdette tallied a go-ahead score two minutes later on an open opportunity against UF goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg. The open chance gave the Volunteers enough confidence to coast into the second half.

Florida defender Georgia Eaton-Collins was everywhere on the pitch and punched in the first Gators goal. The Gators were already down 2-0, but Eaton-Collins’ right-foot shot momentarily eased an uphill climb heading into halftime.

Tennessee kept the scoring parade rolling after the break with a right-foot goal from Taylor Huff in the 58th minute to push her team’s lead to 3-1.

Graduate transfer Julianne Leskauskas celebrated a score of her own after a left-foot strike found its way to the right side of the net. Leskauskas hauled in a pass from midfielder Maddy Rhodes, controlled her feet and found her corner target.

The Vols made their way through the transparent Florida defense to push Goldberg through a proverbial shredder. Tennessee laid down 13 shots on goal and Goldberg came away with six saves in an attempt to keep her team close. Goldberg did her part but the rest of the team failed to cooperate.

Tennessee keeper Lindsey Romig only had to make two saves after the Gators only got off four shots on goal.

Florida’s season has come to a halt and now head coach Tony Amato will have a full spring to recruit and train a fresh set of players. Forwards Kit Loferski, Madison Alexander and Eaton-Collins were all honored for Florida’s senior day earlier this season. 

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

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