Jo Dragotta

Senior Jo Dragotta (14) steals the ball from Caroline Brown (25) of Tennessee on Friday at James G. Pressly Stadium. The Gators defeated the Volunteers 2-1.

Jo Dragotta was doing her best to keep her mind clear.

Florida was already up 2-0 Georgia and had allowed only three shots through the first 69 minutes, but Dragotta had her own pressure to deal with.

Georgia had just been called for a handball inside the penalty box, and Dragotta was lining up to take the penalty kick.

Although penalty kicks are always pressure-packed situations, Dragotta had extra weight on her shoulders.

In her four years at Florida, she had never scored a goal.

“I was like, ‘Oh, this is my one shot to score a goal here at UF,’” she said.

With no hesitation, she took her shot, aimed it low at the far side of the net and let it rip.

Georgia goalkeeper Ashley Baker dove in the opposite direction, and Dragotta jumped into the arms of teammate Havana Solaun.

“We kind of planned that,” Dragotta said after Sunday’s game. “I was like, ‘Havana, if you score, I’m going to jump into your arms,’ and she was like, ‘OK, if you score, you can jump into my arms, too.’ Then I scored, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, we get to do it!’”

As a defensive midfielder, Dragotta’s primary job is to move the ball between the defenders and the attacking midfielders.

On defense, her job is to try to slow down opposing attacks.

“Scoring, OK, it’s exciting and stuff, but at the same time, I’d rather our team win,” Dragotta said.

“I admire her so much,” sophomore defender Annie Bobbitt said. “How she tackles, how she distributes the ball.”

Dragotta did not always have the role she has now.

When she was in high school, she played midfield and forward, taking on a more active role in the offense.

While at Gaither High School in Tampa, she scored 24 goals in her final two seasons.

In her four years on the school’s soccer team, she was a three-time All-Sunshine Conference and All-Hillsborough County selection.

Despite Dragotta’s lack of scoring during her time at Florida, senior midfielder Erika Tymrak said Dragotta shows off one of the Gators’ best penalty kicks during practice.

“Jo always hits her spot,” Tymrak said. “She’s probably one of the most composed players on the team.”

Dragotta’s composure is something the rest of the team finds useful.

After defeating Tennessee on Friday, coach Becky Burleigh said she was disappointed that the team didn’t keep its composure.

The Gators took a 2-0 lead before falling into the Volunteers’ style of play and letting them pull within a goal.

Halfway through her final season at Florida, Dragotta said it wasn’t the big wins or accomplishments on the field that she would take with her.

“Honestly, it doesn’t even come down to soccer,” she said.

“Obviously, soccer is a big part of our lives, but you’re with these people all the time and … it’s definitely a special bond.”