Florida’s soccer team was held scoreless in last season’s meeting against Missouri.
But UF’s offense rebounded from its poor attacking display this time around in a 3-2 victory over the Tigers on Thursday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
“It just says we learned a lot from last year,” junior forward Deanne Rose said. “We’re not taking any steps back, and we’re using every game that we lost last year as motivation to win them this year.”
The left side of Missouri’s (6-3-1, 0-1-1 SEC) defense struggled to contain redshirt junior defender Kit Loferski, who used her breakaway speed to create scoring opportunities for the Gators (6-4, 2-0 SEC)
That was evident in the 16th minute when Loferski scurried down the right sideline and whipped in a dangerous cross that nearly connected with the foot of senior forward Vanessa Kara.
Kara, however, found the back of the net two minutes later, as senior midfielder Sammie Betters squared the ball across the box for an easy tap-in. After failing to score in the first six games of the season, Kara has registered six goals in her last four appearances.
Florida nearly doubled its lead in the 36th minute on a ferocious volley from Rose that hit the side netting. Rose eventually gave her team a two-goal cushion in the 53rd minute, sprinting past Missouri’s back line and firing a shot over the goalkeeper.
The 5-foot-5 forward, who has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury over the past month, had not scored since Aug. 25 when she recorded a goal in a 2-0 victory over then-No. 18 South Florida.
Tigers forward Macy Trujillo cut into Florida’s lead in the 66th minute with a rocket from the edge of the box that was out of reach for UF goalkeeper Susi Espinoza. But redshirt junior midfielder Parker Roberts found the back of the net just 10 minutes later to put the Gators up 3-1.
Missouri made things interesting in the 82nd minute, when forward Sarah Luebbert converted a penalty kick to make it a 3-2 game. Espinoza guessed correctly but the ball was too high for her to come up with the save.
Florida’s defense held firm in the closing minutes of the game and stymied the Tigers’ comeback attempt to give the Gators their fourth-consecutive win.
“I think that’s SEC teams. They never give up, and I think we learned a lesson tonight,” Rose said after UF’s second victory in SEC play. “We came away with the W, but it came a little bit too close.”
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bryan_2712. Contact him at [email protected].