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Thursday, December 01, 2022

Florida soccer drops SEC opener to Tennessee despite late comeback attempt

UF sophomore Maddy Pirrello scored her first goal as a Gator in the match

Florida freshman Lauren McCloskey throws the ball into play against the South Florida Bulls Sept. 1, 2022.
Florida freshman Lauren McCloskey throws the ball into play against the South Florida Bulls Sept. 1, 2022.

Florida generated chances late, hoping to find an equalizer. However, it all fell just short as Tennessee goalkeeper Lindsey Romig’s nine saves made the difference in the Gators’ Southeastern Conference opener.

Romig recorded a shutout in the first half and made five saves in the second half to stave off a UF comeback. 

“Their keeper made some big-time saves,” Florida head coach Samantha Bohon said. “It’s not that I felt like we lost the game; I thought she just really won the game for them.” 

The Gators (2-6-0, 0-1 SEC) lost Friday night’s match to the Volunteers (5-2-1, 1-0 SEC) 2-1. UF sophomore forward Maddy Pirrello was a bright spot for Florida as she became the 25th player in program history to score her first goal in her first start.

The match shifted into high gear right from the opening  kickoff. UF junior midfielder Julianne Leskauskas received a through ball from midfield and took a shot inside the left side of the box, but the chance was saved by Romig.

Tennessee struck first with a goal from forward Mackenzie George. She received the ball in the middle of the box from forward Jada Thomas and netted home the shot in the 19th minute.

Later in the first half, Florida senior midfielder Syd Kennedy found some open space for a shot from the left side, but Romig deflected the ball back into the open field. UF junior midfielder Delaney Tauzel landed on the ball and launched a shot from deep outside the box, but the lofted shot was pushed away just in time by Romig. 

In the 31st minute, UF junior defender Josie Curtis chased Tennessee midfielder Taylor Huff down the right touchline and committed a tackle from behind in the box. The interaction conceded a penalty kick. 

Volunteers forward Claudia Dipasupil scored the penalty to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead. UF junior goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg guessed the right direction for the shot, initially blocking it, but the ball rebounded off her gloves and slowly rolled over the goal line. 

Florida went into halftime trailing by two, despite taking four shots on goal compared to Tennessee’s two. 

The Gators started the second half slower than the first. The team did not record a shot until the 68th minute. 

Florida would get back into the match with a corner kick in the 70th minute. UF freshman Oakley Rasmussen headed the ball to Pirello, who had her back to the goal in front of Romig. She turned with the ball and took a shot which deflected off of a Tennessee defender for the goal.

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UF continued to fight for an equalizer for the remainder of the second half. In a counterattack, Leskauskas received the ball on the left side of the box, made one cut and took a shot that beat Romig but just went by the right post. 

After two successive shots from Kennedy and Tauzel, Pirello dribbled past a Volunteers defender at the bottom of the right side of the box. She fired a through ball to Rassmussen in the middle, whose shot was saved by Romig. 

Bohon was pleased with her team’s efforts and enjoyed seeing the younger players in her squad rise to the occasion. 

“I thought our performance was pretty strong,” she said. “I’m really happy with the execution.” 

Florida finished with 14 shots with 10 on goal compared to Tennessee’s 12 shots with six on goal.

The Gators will head to Oxford, Mississippi, to play against the Ole Miss Rebels for their next match Thursday at 7 pm. The match will be streamed on SEC Network+.

Contact Jackson Reyes at Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a third-year sports journalism major. He is the Gator's soccer beat reporter and previously worked as a general assignment reporter on the Metro desk. When he's not reporting, he enjoys collecting records and taking long walks on the beach. 

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