The Gators had their first draw of the season in reach, and only a few inches kept them from avoiding another notch in the loss column.
With one minute left on the clock and 3-2 deficit, senior forward Alivia Gonzalez served a corner kick into the back side of the box. She hoped to connect with one of the 10 awaiting Gators.
As the ball reached its destination, Florida defender Anna DeLeon sent a header into the high left corner of the goal. A deflection from Texas goalkeeper Savanna Madden shipped the ball to the crossbar instead.
Madden’s miraculous save handed Florida its second straight one-goal loss in the span of a week. On Thursday, the Gators fell to Baylor after allowing a goal in the 88th minute.
UF head coach Samantha Bohon did her best to stay positive following another close defeat.
“I thought this game in particular we fought really hard, and I thought they executed our game plan very well,” Bohon said.
Bohon was meeting a familiar face during the match. Her counterpart, Angela Kelly, was the head coach at Tennessee when Bohon served as an assistant coach from 2001-2005.
Their first encounter as opponents was eventful.
The Longhorns began the match in control of possession and shot four times in the first five minutes. Florida struck first, however, scoring its first chance of the game in the 10th minute thanks to a solid combination from senior attackers Kouri Peace and Tessa Barton.
Peace drove the ball deep into the right sideline before delivering a low cross directly at Barton’s feet, who just had to push the ball into the net.
Florida’s lead was short lived, though, as Texas tied the game in the 12th minute. Longhorns forward Trinity Byars received the ball in the box before hitting a right-foot shot into the right side of the net.
In the 25th minute, Texas defender Emma Regan gave the Longhorns a provisional lead with a long-shot goal. Regan’s attempt hit the top right corner, beating Gators goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg.
UF junior midfielder Julianne Leskauskas tied the match with three minutes left in the first half to the credit of a Texas defensive miscue. The Longhorns failed to clear a ball in the box, leaving Leskauskas with a free shot into the net.
Although Texas controlled most of the possession, Florida capitalized on its counterattacks and long passes. The Longhorns totaled 11 shots in the first half, but the score was not a reflection of the full stat sheet.
In the second half, both teams got off to an explosive start with a pair of chances. Texas forward Lexi Missimo missed an open shot from close range. Then, Gonzalez sent a weak shot into Madden’s hands with no pressure on.
The Gators were close to their third goal in the 60th minute when Madden saved a deflected shot from Barton. After the play, the match stagnated with both teams struggling to create opportunities.
In the 80th minute, Byars broke the deadlock with a header that bounced off UF defender Lauren McCloskey. Goldberg was unable to save the ball despite having a solid performance all game — she collected five saves on 19 total shots.
The Gators will return to Donald R. Dizney Stadium Thursday to play their home opener against South Florida. The match is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will stream on the SEC Network +.
Jose Tovar is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Florida specializing in sports and media. He has covered softball and soccer as a beat writer and aspires to work in the sports media industry.