Florida’s soccer team is now one game away from getting back to .500.
The Gators defeated Florida Gulf Coast 4-0 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Thursday. The second home match of the season for UF snapped a four-game losing streak, getting Florida to 3-4 on the year.
The last time the Gators lost four-straight games was last September when they dropped the string of matches by eight combined goals.
In the 25th minute, Florida midfielder Cassidy Lindley took it up the left wing all the way to the endline and crossed in a pass on the ground to forward Vanessa Kara. The forward got to it before FGCU goalkeeper Melissa Weck could, she placed it in the back of the net on the far right side with the outside of her right foot. The goal put Florida on the scoresheet 1-0.
The speed of UF’s wing players has allowed opportunities to play outside-to-inside soccer all season; on Thursday those opportunities finally mattered.
“We kind of had a reality check in last game (UCF) losing when we thought we should’ve won,” Kara said after the game. “We thought it came down to not even a lack of finishing, but a lack of confidence in the box.”
The rest of Florida’s night proved the success of that reality check.
UF struck again not long after. Madison Alexander was closer to the midfield line than the 18-yard box when she rifled a powerful shot. The right-footed strike loudly struck the right post of the goal and bounced back into play to find Kara’s feet just outside the 6-yard box. Kara cleanly placed it left this time in the back of the net for her second goal of the contest.
The 37th minute brought more scoring on the orange and blue side. Midfielder Parker Roberts chipped a flawless pass to the left wing over the head of defender Alison Wessel and to the feet of forward Kouri Peace. “I think I was just trying to switch the field,” Roberts said. “I know how fast she is too so I know I have a little leeway if it’s not perfect.”
Peace then dusted Wessel with a sharp cut from left to right with the outside of her right foot at the top of the 18. She took advantage of the favorable angle the move earned her and rocked it into the left side of the goal, her first as a Gator, and put UF up 3-0.
“Kouri’s acceleration is really scary,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “You’re left with a dilemma as a defender. If you step up high, she can get behind you and if you give her a little space she can run at you, neither of which are great options.”
The second half possession was dominated by the Gators. The Eagles were pressing since they were so far behind and the focus was gone from the FGCU side, as it failed to string together any long possessions. The Gators not only kept the ball on FGCU’s side of the field for most of the second half, but they kept it near the 18.
After seemingly endless threatening chances from Florida in the second half, the 71st minute finally saw another one get in. Laney Steed played a corner kick to the head of Roberts. The midfielder leaped over a cluster of players in the 18 and got enough power on it to sneak the ball past the goalline, increasing UF’s advantage to four.
Fourteen minutes later, the final whistle blew mercy for the FGCU side and the Gators were victorious at 4-0.
“I think we left some goals off the scoresheet that we probably could’ve scored,” Burleigh said. “But in terms of the quality (of) play overall, it was much, much better.”
Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at [email protected].