Florida’s soccer team has made a habit of coming from behind to win games.
It did just that on Oct. 13 against Kentucky and last Friday against Auburn, erasing one-goal deficits in both fixtures to earn crucial conference victories ahead of the upcoming SEC Tournament.
The No. 20 Gators tried to mount another comeback on Thursday night, but Tennessee held them scoreless in a 1-0 triumph at the Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Volunteers (9-5-2, 3-4-1 SEC) looked more like the 20th-ranked team in the nation than the Gators (10-6, 6-2 SEC) did in the early stages of the game. Tennessee kept a majority of the possession and created several scoring opportunities, but Florida goalkeeper Susi Espinoza was there to keep the hosts off the scoreboard.
Espinoza saved midfielder Sonia Ouchene Salón’s header that was destined for the back of the net in the sixth minute.
Florida had a difficult time breaking through the heart of Tennessee’s defense, so it relied on forward Kit Loferski for a spark on offense.
Loferski has done most of her damage from the flanks this season, which was evident in the 31st minute. The redshirt junior used her speed to get behind UT’s back line and whip in a cross to forward Kouri Peace, who was wide open in front of goal. Peace, however, shanked the kick, and both teams went into halftime tied 0-0.
The Volunteers started the second half in the same fashion as the first, but this time they capitalized on their superior play.
Forward MA Vignola pounced on a loose ball at the top of the box and found midfielder Katie Cousins, who calmly placed her shot in the bottom-right corner to give Tennessee the 1-0 lead in the 51st minute.
UT was close to its second goal eight minutes later, as Vignola’s left-footed shot hit the post. The Gators spent the rest of the game looking for an equalizer, but Volunteers goalkeeper Lindsey Romig stood tall in net.
Romig finished the match with seven saves, her second-highest mark of the season.
Things went from bad to worse for UF in the 81st minute when Loferski was shown a straight red card for dissent.
Loferski stormed off the pitch and went straight to the locker room. She was joined by the rest of her team nine minutes later, as the Gators suffered their sixth loss of the season.
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bryan_2712. Contact him at [email protected]