Susi Espinoza kept Texas A&M’s Barbara Olivieri at bay in the early stages of Sunday afternoon’s game.
Florida’s keeper made three saves through the first nine minutes against Olivieri to keep things level. However, Espinoza was bested in the 22nd minute when Olivieri’s attempted cross from the corner flag curled into the back of the net for her first collegiate goal — a type of goal known as an olimpico.
Olivieri’s offensive prowess propelled No. 11 Texas A&M to a 2-1 victory over No. 15 Florida at Ellis Field in College Station, Texas.
The Gators (1-1-1) appeared down and out after the first 45 minutes of action, as the Aggies took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
Texas A&M (2-1) was awarded a penalty kick in the 28’ when UF defender Parker Roberts bumped forward Lauren Giczek as both players fought for a 50-50 ball inside the 18-yard box.
Jimena Lopez missed her first collegiate penalty kick in last weekend’s 2-1 loss to then-No.9 Arkansas, but she would not make the same mistake this time around. The Aggies defender blasted the ball into the bottom-left corner, putting it out of Espinoza’s reach to give her team a two-goal advantage.
TAMU recorded nine shots to UF’s one in the opening half.
Florida’s only attempt came in the closing seconds when Alivia Gonzalez outmuscled her defender to create some space. Gonzalez then tried bending the ball into the back post, but Aggies keeper Shantel Hutton was in a good position to make the save.
“I think it’s a really good lesson for us,” coach Becky Burleigh said after her team’s defeat. “When we come on the road or play in any game to be fair, we just need to start out a little bit grittier right from the beginning and not try to work our way into the game.”
Texas A&M’s high press in the first half made it difficult for UF — a team known for its methodical buildup and possession-based style of play — to keep the ball for long periods of time. In the second half, however, the Gators relied on long balls over the top to stretch the opposition, which led to more scoring opportunities.
Florida pulled one back in the 58th minute when forward Madison Alexander fought through an array of defenders and poked the ball to midfielder Syd Kennedy, whose left-footed shot found the back of the net.
Kennedy’s first career goal was too little, too late for the Gators, though, as the Aggies held on to their one-goal lead for the rest of the afternoon.
“We need to bring the energy from the first minutes,” the sophomore said. “We struggle too much with starting slow and trying to pick up in the second half.”
Contact Bryan Matamoros at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @bryan_2712.