Arkansas goalkeeper Taylor Beitz fell to the ground in her own box while the rest of the Razorbacks’ garrison could only watch in horror.
It has been a long time since the Florida soccer team faced a Senior Day like this.
Forward Deanne Rose, already alone on a breakaway, waltzed towards the goal and knocked in the ball for her first goal for the Gators since returning to the team.
UF defeated Arkansas 3-0 Thursday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, securing its spot in the upcoming SEC Tournament after a season marred by the Gators’ struggling play.
The Gators (6-9-3, 4-4-2 SEC) certainly seemed inspired by the pre-match ceremonies to honor their seniors when they came out in the first half. It was just the 10th minute when midfielder Briana Solis hit a screamer from 20 yards out for her fourth career goal, putting UF up 1-0 early.
Florida wasn’t keen on slowing down its attack. UF had a great chance in the 18th minute when senior Sarah Troccoli launched a shot that hit the crossbar and ricocheted right to forward Madison Alexander, who bounced it off her chest and against the post.
The offense wasn’t the only positive in the Gators’ first half.
Senior goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese saved three shots during the course of the first half, including a diving save and a punch-out in the 36th minute when faced with a swarm of Razorback players in her box.
Kaylan Marckese on her record setting shutout to hold the UF record for most solo shutouts in the school's history pic.twitter.com/VF3R5VpUIx— River Wells (@riverhwells) October 26, 2018
The Gators capitalized on their momentum from the first period, and it was all about sophomore Deanne Rose when the second half began. Rose had been away for quite some time playing for the Canadian National Team, but she made up for her absence in spades by scoring twice on the Razorbacks (11-4-3, 6-3-1 SEC) in the span of four minutes. Her first goal in the 53rd minute came easily from Beitz’s stumble, and she struck in the 57th minute from 10 yards away for goal No. 2 to put UF up 3-0.
“As a striker, when you get the first goal, they just come,” Rose said after the match. “Being in front of the goal, the more you are, the more comfortable you get.”
The Gators finished the match with an 11-7 (six on goal for UF to UA’s three) lead in shots.
The shutout win also gave Marckese her 28th career shutout, which broke the record for the most solo shutouts in UF history.
“[Breaking the record] on Senior Day is cool because I still don’t feel like a senior. I’m too young for that,” 20-year-old Marckese said. “But for me, it’s a team thing. I’m not gonna get a shutout without the other 10 people in front of me.”
The Gators will advance to the SEC Tournament and play their first match on Sunday. Despite the team’s losing record and overall lack of offensive power, the team is anything but deterred heading into the postseason.
“We know we have the potential to beat anybody in the country,” Solis said. “We’re going for it all.”
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells or contact him at [email protected].