On a breezy senior night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, the eighth ranked Florida Gators took on the Arkansas Razorbacks. On Sunday night, the 921 fans in attendance were not treated to a miracle golden goal that would keep Florida at the top of the SEC pecking order, but what they did witness was something very impressive.
While Arkansas did keep it scoreless for the entire first half, the Gators quickly remedied that as they opened the second. Gone was the nail biter from Thursday night. Florida made sure of that with four goals in a matter of 26 minutes and 24 seconds. The Gators would go on to beat Arkansas 4-0.
When asked about what she thought of her Gators’ four goals in the second half, Head Coach Becky Burleigh responded right back with “I want to talk about the shutout.. We finally got a shutout.” On what was sure to be an emotional evening for the seniors and one that Coach Burleigh described as “always [being] a really, really special night,” she emphasized the responsibility that the other players had to send the seniors out on a good note.
The shutout was the Gators’ third of the season (the other two being at then 17th ranked UCF and at Jacksonville) and you could hear the relief in the head coach’s voice as she discussed it. Asked why she emphasized the shutout, she simply answered that they “hadn’t had one in quite some time.” It was refreshing to see excitement over something like that from a head coach.
For those who enjoy the more statistical side of things, there was plenty to point out on Sunday night. Starting with Brooke Sharp’s goal that got the Gators’ scoring going, it was the quickest goal to start the second half this season- taking a mere 57 seconds into the second half to score. The quickest score to start the second half previously was four minutes and 49 seconds into the half at LSU on October 11. That score puts Sharp at 10 on the season.
As for the Gators’ Savannah Jordan- who scored at both the 55:40 and 72:21 marks- it was her fourth multi-goal match of the 2015 season and 15th of her career. Jordan has now scored a total of 17 points this season- a number that puts her at the top of the league in scoring.
Combined with Sharp’s 10 points on the season, this is the 11th time in the 21- year history of Florida soccer that two or more players have totaled double-digit goals in a single season. The last time the Gators accomplished this feat was back in 2011.
Another indication that the Gators had a great day, even their goalkeeper got in on the scoring action. Florida’s Kaylan Marckese was credited with an assist on the only Gator goal not yet mentioned. That goal came 71 minutes and 50 seconds into the game and only 31 seconds before the final score. On the Gators third score of the night, Briana Solis took the long pass from Marckese and sprinted down the field with the ball with no one but Arkansas’ goalkeeper to oppose her. From their she punched the ball past Arkansas’ Jordan Harris and the rout was on.
Senior Day Snippets
Before the Gators’ game against the Razorbacks began, Florida honored the careers of their three seniors: Claire Falknor, Lauren Smith, and Christen Westphal. A class to be celebrated, they have compiled a record of 67-17-5 (.781). Even more impressive is that they have been a part of two SEC title teams and have advanced to NCAA play in each of the last three seasons. This class also ranks seventh in the country in win total over their last four seasons. It will be tough to see such a fun, productive class graduate, but the Gators’ two lead scorers should be ready to take leadership roles next season as seniors along with the rest of their class and lead the Gators soccer team to even greater heights.
- Florida and Arkansas both attempted 11 shots, but the Gators just made them count more as they scored four points in a single half for the third time this season (the others being at Miami and at Jacksonville).
- There was only one yellow card handed out on the night and that was to Arkansas’ Dee Dee Green.
- Florida’s Christen Westphal logged her 10th assist of the season on Sunday.Half have come on a Savannah Jordan score.
- Florida is tied with Missouri for the lead in the SEC.
- Florida’s final regular season game comes at Georgia on Thursday.