The Becky Burleigh era at Florida will come to an end after the completion of the season.
Sports | Soccer
Florida’s Susi Espinoza gave her team a fighting chance against Missouri in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Sunday.
In a disappointing season for UF full of external skepticism, injuries, quarantines and close losses, head coach Becky Burleigh maintained one thing: her team doesn’t give up.
The keepers took center stage against a dark and windy backdrop in Florida’s regular-season finale at Missouri.
Florida coach Becky Burleigh returned to the sidelines Friday night following her mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Kentucky, meanwhile, was forced to play without coach Ian Carry after he tested positive for the virus.
After coming to Florida’s rescue many times this season, goal-keeper Susi Espinoza footed much of the blame on Friday night, as her costly 27th minute error led to the opening goal in UF’s 2-1 loss to Tennessee.
On the heels of a 4-2 drubbing at the hands of South Carolina, Florida will play at Donald R. Dizney stadium for the final time this season Friday against a Tennessee program in similarly dire straits.
An already difficult matchup at No. 11 South Carolina was even tougher for Florida with the absence of coach Becky Burleigh, who stayed back in Gainesville due to COVID-19 contact tracing. A shorthanded Gators team proved no match for the Gamecocks, who came away with a comfortable 4-2 victory at Stone Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, on Sunday.
Granted, this season’s schedule includes fixtures only against SEC opponents due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But Florida’s heartbreaking loss to Vanderbilt in double overtime last weekend marked the first time since 2018 that coach Becky Burleigh’s team dropped back-to-back conference games.
In an unorthodox season full of cancellations and quarantines, Florida’s historic dominance on “pink day” was foiled by the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Florida will return home to face Vanderbilt Sunday after its first loss of the season against Texas A&M, but the Gators’ traditional white, orange and blue uniforms will take another week off.
Susi Espinoza kept Texas A&M’s Barbara Olivieri at bay in the early stages of Sunday afternoon’s game.
Florida earned the attention of the United Soccer Coaches’ national rankings for the first time this season, slotting in at No. 15 after a win and a draw against ranked Alabama and Georgia teams.
In a tale of two halves at the Diz, Florida overcame a sloppy and toothless first-half performance to notch a 2-1 victory over No. 15 Alabama.
Cameron Hall pounded the ground in frustration. Her golden opportunity to grab a late winner against the No. 8 team in the nation fell harmlessly into Georgia goalkeeper Emory Wegener’s arms as the crowd put their hands behind their heads in the stands of Donald R. Dizney stadium.
Over the last several years, the soccer pitch hosted one of the least competitive iterations of the Florida-Georgia rivalry.