Written by: Lawrence Laguna
Claire Falknor was looking to turn in an assist all match to teammate Savannah Jordan. When they finally connected, Jordan found herself in position to give her team the game-winning goal.
Jordan chipped the ball over Georgia’s goalkeeper Louise Hogrell, tripped, fell down, but got up to hustle the ball down and place it in the back of the net. The result would hand No. 7 Florida (7-2, 2-0 Southeastern conference) a 2-1 victory over No. 22 Georgia (6-2-1, SEC 1-1-1).
The goal by Jordan was her sixth of the season and led the Gators to a three match-winning streak – tied for the longest this season.
“We had been looking for each other all game,” Jordan said. “She (Falknor) made eye contact with me and played a great ball over the top. Their line was really high and I kind of took off. I saw the goal keeper come out so I took a touch around her, fell a little bit and then finished the goal.”
But Florida didn’t have it easy at all throughout the match.
Finally returning home after a sixth-game road stretch and not playing at home for nearly a month, SEC rival Georgia tested Florida’s backline all night.
In the first half, the Bulldogs were relentless on offense pressuring the Gators defense on numerous occasions, with seven shots on goal over Florida’s two.
While Florida attacked first with a goal by Brooke Sharp in the 24th minute, Georgia responded as Marion Crowder, who has been battling an ACL injury and leads the team in goals with six, tallied in an eight-yarder for the equalizer.
Entering the half knotted up, coach Becky Burleigh witnessed Georgia playing differently than on the scouting report and knew it was time to adjust.
“Just like we’ve seen a couple of time this year, the scouting report we have on teams doesn’t match up what they do,” Burleigh said. “I think a lot of teams are game planning for us, which is hard for us to game plan until we get into the game to see what they’re going to do. That was a change on our part and to counteract what they were doing.”
After evaluating Georgia’s scheme, all it took was for Florida to play ahead of the Bulldogs’ backline and deliver a clear attack, in which Jordan executed.
In addition to having an assist that led to the game winner, Falknor and her backline defended against a heavily powered Georgia frontline.
“Georgia’s different than SEC schools because they press more than other SEC schools that normally back off and bunker,” Falknor said.
“I know our backline. We like the pressure because it brings out the best in us, but we just have to trust in our system.”
Relying on that technique enabled Florida to remain undefeated at home. Now they seek to keep that record intact on Sunday versus conference foe Missouri.