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Thursday, December 07, 2023

Florida fails to get back on track, drops first game of SEC play

The Gators outshot Missouri 10 to five in the loss

Sophomore forward Lauren McCloskey prepares to pass the ball in the Gators' 8-0 win against the Stetson Hatters Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023.
Sophomore forward Lauren McCloskey prepares to pass the ball in the Gators' 8-0 win against the Stetson Hatters Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023.

Florida freshman forward Megan Hinnenkamp dashed ahead of the defender with time running out and the Gators trailing by one. She dribbled, took a few steps forward and fired a shot at the net.

Missouri redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Bella Hollenbach sprinted out of the net to meet Hinnenkamp and got a piece of the shot and ended Florida’s hope of a late equalizer.

The Florida Gators (4-2-2, 0-1 SEC) fell to the Missouri Tigers (5-1-2, 1-0 SEC) Friday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. The Gators set a new record high in attendance for this first match of SEC play with 1,283 fans.

There were a total of 24 fouls called between the two teams. Despite both teams dealing with foul issues, the match was tightly contested throughout.

Florida senior goalkeeper Alexa Goldberg made a diving save on the first Missouri shot attempt off the foot of Missouri sophomore forward Kylee Simmons.

The Tigers applied pressure on the ball which forced the Gators to play on their defensive end often. Missouri was quicker to the ball and had Florida on its heels early.

“I’m really annoyed with, honestly, our start,” said Florida head coach Samantha Bohon. “We got behind the eight ball and had to kind of claw our way back out.”

In the 12th minute, Missouri senior forward Jenna Bartels snuck a shot past Goldberg to put the Tigers on the board.

Missouri received a penalty kick in the 18th minute coming off a yellow card given to junior Gators defender Madison Young. Simmons capitalized on the opportunity and placed a shot in the top-right corner to give Missouri the early two-goal lead.

In the 22nd minute, sophomore Tigers defender Bella Carillo was called for a foul that resulted in a Gators penalty kick. Florida redshirt sophomore midfielder Oakley Rasmussen buried the opportunity and cut the Gators’ deficit to one.

Goldberg got a hand on a centering pass from a Missouri corner kick to spoil a scoring opportunity.

Both teams traded possession in the midfield until the end of the first half. Missouri entered the halftime break with a 2-1 lead.

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The sky began to open up at the beginning of the second half, but the match continued. 

In the 49th minute, Simmons found the back of the net for a second time after she received a centering pass that led her wide open in Florida’s penalty area. The goal pushed the Tigers’ lead back to two. 

Florida freshman forward Amelia Malkin fired a shot towards the bottom-left corner but Hollenbach managed to come up with the save. 

In the 74th minute, Hinnenkamp broke away with the ball and scored a wide-open goal to bring the Gators back within one.

Florida senior defender Josie Curtis sprinted up to a missed centering pass and blasted a shot just over the crossbar.

The Gators’ attack put heavy pressure on the Missouri defense down the stretch. Florida put three shots on goal during a nine-minute stretch and forced Hollenbach to make several saves late.

“We created incredible chances,” Bohon said. “Credit to that keeper because she was outstanding.”

With four seconds remaining in the game, Hinnenkamp got loose on another counter attack and threw a last-ditch shot at the net. Hollenbach was able to come up with the save as time expired.

The Gators will be in action again on the road against the Tennessee Volunteers at 7 p.m. Thursday. The game will be streamed on SEC+.

Contact Austin Stirling at Follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg.

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Austin Stirling

Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major and sports reporter for The Alligator. He previously covered Gators women's basketball and is primarily covering soccer during the fall 2023 semester. He is a huge New York sports fan and is hoping the Jets can be a respectable football team for once in his life this season.

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