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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Florida’s comeback hopes fall short against Mizzou

The Gators scored two second-half goals but couldn’t find a third

Florida sophomore defender Madison Young with the ball during the Gators' loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.
Florida sophomore defender Madison Young with the ball during the Gators' loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.

Florida soccer had a mountain to climb Sunday afternoon. 

After allowing two first-half goals in their Southeastern Conference matchup against Missouri, the Gators embarked on a comeback rally that included three shots and three corner kicks in the first 15 minutes of the second half. 

UF was determined to snap its worst losing streak in program history. However, a Tigers’ penalty kick goal in the 66th minute was more than enough to shatter Florida’s dream. 

The Gators (2-11, 0-6 SEC) extended their skid to eight after falling 3-2 to Mizzou (5-6-2, 2-3-1 SEC) Sunday. With the loss, Florida has now dropped eight matches by a one-goal deficit this season. 

Mizzou forward Elena Zuchowski stunned the Gators with an early goal only three minutes into the match. The freshman found an opening in the back side of the box and scored on a low cross from freshman midfielder Hannah Boughton. 

After conceding the goal, Florida settled in the midfield by controlling possession and advancing its players into the opposing half. However, the Gators’ momentum slowed as Zuchowski nearly got on the board for the second time in the 14th minute. 

The Wisconsin native sent a right-foot shot from the right side that went a few inches wide off the right post. After that play, Mizzou took a more aggressive stance and finally found a breakthrough at the 28-minute-mark. 

Tigers freshman forward Kylee Simmons capitalized on a weak clearance from UF junior defender Anna DeLeon and sent the ball to the back of the net. DeLeon’s attempt landed in front of Simmons, who fueled a powerful shot to the right side of the goal. Florida junior goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg had a touch on the ball, but it wasn't strong enough to deflect the shot.

The Gators came out hungry in the second half by applying high pressure and attacking aggressively. That collective effort came to fruition in the 54th minute when senior forward Tessa Barton scored a header on a corner kick by junior midfielder Delaney Tauzel.  

Barton’s header was the Gators’ first goal since Sept. 16, when sophomore forward Maddy Pirello got on the board in the second half of the match against Tennessee. 

Florida kept attacking and applying pressure, desperate for an equalizer. However, Missouri sophomore midfielder Milena Fischer scored a penalty kick in the 66th minute to increase the lead. 

UF freshman defender Ashley Tutas dropped a Tigers' forward inside the box, causing the set piece. Goldberg guessed the direction of the shot but couldn’t reach the ball. 

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The Gators were left stunned again after their best stint of the matchup. Mizzou iced the game by taking control of possession. Florida struggled to create opportunities despite attacking with five players. 

In the 84th minute, Gators senior midfielder Syd Kennedy found the bottom right corner of the goal with a left-side shot. Florida sent players to attack, but it couldn’t control the ball. Missouri populated the midfield and frustrated Florida’s attacks until the final whistle blew. 

The Gators will return to the pitch Oct. 16 against Kentucky. The match is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will stream on ESPNU. 

Contact Jose Tovar at Find him on Twitter @jose___tovar.

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Jose Tovar

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.

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