Special report on the Florida Gators soccer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gator soccer got 2017-18 Florida athletics home action off to a positive start Sunday with a 5-0 win over Troy at the James G. Pressly Stadium. Five different Gators scored Sunday’s goals.
Florida is now 20-2-1 all-time in home openers.
Goal one for the Gators came early in the opening half. The play started deep the Florida half when Kristen Cardano’s pass found Sammie Betters open just beyond the midway point. Betters’ pass to just above the box bounced forward for freshman Deanne Rose. She caught up to the ball to send a chip past the oncoming goalkeeper in the 11th minute.
Senior Gabby Seiler scored her second goal of the weekend off a corner kick at 27:48. The ball sent by Briana Solis was headed across the goal by Tess Sapone where Seiler volleyed it in from 10 yards.
It was the perfect birthday present for junior Brittney Bennett. The ball popped out to the top of the box off a Troy clearance attempt. Bennett’s hard right-footed shot scored at the top corner at 35:05.
Florida scored quickly to start the second half off another Solis corner kick. Parker Roberts shouldered the ball down to bounce across the line at 46:49.
A penalty kick in the 86th minute by sophomore Tess Sapone was successful, giving Florida the final score.
* Four different players scored their first Gator goal Sunday. Rose (10:29), Bennett (35:05), Roberts (46:49) and Sapone (85:24).
* Sunday’s goal was the fourth of Roberts’ collegiate career and first as a Gator. Roberts scored three goals as a freshman at Kansas in 2015 before transferring to Florida in the summer of 2016. She sat out the 2016 collegiate season due to her commitment to the U.S. Under-20 National Team for the FIFA U-20 World Cup (played November-December 2016 in Papua New Guinea).
* Bennett’s goal came on her 20th birthday.
* Gabby Seiler’s goal was her third as a Gator and her second of the weekend. Her penalty kick in the 96th minute Friday gave Florida a 1-0 season-opening win at Florida Atlantic. It was the 13th goal of her collegiate career. She played for Georgia as a freshman and sophomore and sat out the 2015 season due to Southeastern Conference transfer rules.
* Solis doubled her career total Sunday with her pair of corner kick assists.
* Rose was impressive in her opening weekend. She was the player fouled to give Florida the penalty kick, which Seiler converted for a 1-0 overtime win Friday at Florida Atlantic. Sunday, she got the Gator scoring started early in the opening half. She and Seiler led the Gators with four shots each Sunday.
* Florida used 23 players in Sunday’s match.
* This is the sixth time in the program’s 23-year history it opened home play with five or more goals. Florida also opened 2016 home action with a five-goal effort.
Wearing Their Heart on Their Sleeves:
On the right sleeve of Florida’s uniform is a patch with the letters “R&N”.
Those initials are to honor Ron and Nancy Burleigh, the parents of Coach Becky Burleigh. Both passed away this year (Ron in February and Nancy in July).
The Gator senior class approached the University Athletic Association about honoring the Burleighs, who have attended many soccer matches to cheer on the Gators. Permission came from the Southeastern Conference and then the UAA Equipment room went to work to get the patches designed and stitched to the uniforms.
The team surprised Burleigh with the patches at this morning’s pre-game meal.
“That was really touching. It was very unexpected, for sure. It is something my family will never forget. My parents were at most home games. My parents have been watching me play since I was 10-years old, so it is kind of weird to be at a game and they aren’t here,” Burleigh said. “But I know they are watching.”
Florida: 2-0-0, 0-0 SEC
Troy: 0-2-0, 0-0 Sun Belt
What the Gators Said:
On today’s match:
“We knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge today because of the weather, the turnaround, the travel and the back-to-back games. I thought our team came out pretty strong from the beginning. I think the two telling stats were one shot for them. We keep a stat on throw ins and we won that 23-1, which is purely focus and effort by them [Gators]. They kept the focus and effort for 90 minutes, which was really impressive.” – Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh
Gabby Seiler started in the back and moved to attacking midfield. How does her versatility help the team?
“She’s one of those players who is capable of playing pretty much everywhere. It just gives our team more versatility when we have someone like that.” – Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh
Five goals by five players – Florida seems to have several scoring options, forcing opponents to focus on more than a couple of players.
“There were some left out there today. There are some dynamic parts of our attack that we still can get much better at and be more prolific, but this weekend was a good start.” – Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh
On team’s preparations for today’s afternoon match:
“Before the game, we talked about the heat and not letting it become a factor in the game. We play in Gainesville every day so it is something we are used to. So that was an advantage for us, especially mentally. It helped us overall to give our best effort.” – senior defender Gabby Seiler
Two wins this weekend, in two different ways. Friday’s was a 1-0 overtime win and today was a dominating 5-0 win:
“On Friday, we had a lot of opportunities we couldn’t capitalize on. So that was a focus going into Sunday. We wanted to create opportunities, but in the end of the day, we wanted to put them in the back of the net. I think today showed we can do that.” – senior defender Gabby Seiler
What happened on your goal?
“It was a corner kick. I heard “Someone on the goalie” so I went and took that spot. It was a perfect ball from Bri (Briana Solis). I saw it and knew I had to flick it on somehow – whether to the goal or to a teammate. It actually hit my shoulder. I turned around and saw it go in. Then I ran straight to Bri because I was so excited to share that with her.” – sophomore midfielder Parker Roberts
Were you excited to get your first Gator goal?
“Sammie got it and I made the run. She played a great ball. It feels good to score my first goal as a Gator. It is really exciting to be with this team and to be able to finish the first one for them.” – freshman forward Deanne Rose
Describe what you saw on your goal:
“The ball came from the left side. It kind of ricocheted off a couple of people and bounced out and I was at the top of the box. I just one-touched it in because no one was there. I didn’t want to take an extra touch so I just finished it first time.” – junior midfielder Brittney Bennett
Preseason Conference Votes:
Florida tied for third in the 2016 SEC regular-season standings and won the SEC Tournament title. Troy was eighth h in 2016 Sun Belt standings.
* Florida – The SEC coaches picked the Gators to win the 2017 Southeastern Conference title<http://floridagators.com/news/2017/8/14/florida-is-picked-to-win-in-sec-soccer-coaches-preseason-vote.aspx?path=soccer>.
* Troy – The Trojans are picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt. South Alabama is the Sun Belt’s preseason pick to win the league.
Florida ranks No. 7 on the preseason United Soccer Coaches (USC) poll<http://unitedsoccercoaches.org/web/Rankings/College_Rankings/NCAA_DI_WOMEN/web/rankings/ncaa/di_women.aspx>.
It is the 21st consecutive Florida appearance in the coaches’ association preseason poll and the sixth straight year the Gators open among the nation’s top 10. Florida faces four teams ranked in the USC preseason top 25. Three of the matches are at home – No. 2 Stanford (Aug. 25), No. 4 South Carolina (Oct. 26) and No. 15 Florida State (Sept. 8). Florida travels to meet preseason No. 10 Auburn (Oct. 13).
The first of two Gator home matches listed among NCAA.com’s Aug. 9 10 Must-See Games to Start the Season<http://www.ncaa.com/news/soccer-women/article/2017-08-09/womens-college-soccer-10-must-see-games-kick-season> article is next for Florida, as No. 2 Stanford makes its first visit to the James G. Pressly Stadium since 2001. That match is set for Friday, Aug. 25 at 5 p.m.
The Stanford at Florida match airs live on the SEC Network with Gator Great Heather Mitts and Jonathan Yardley calling the action. Listeners can hear the match on 98.1 FM / 850 AM WRUF or GatorVision.com.
The first 250 fans receive a vuvuzela to help amplify their Gator support.
Troy (0-2-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) at Florida (2-0-0, SEC 0-0-0)
Stadium: James G. Pressly Stadium
Weather: 90 degrees, winds ENE 5 mph, 61% humidity
Goals by Period
Sammie Better, Kristen Cardano
15yd chip over keeper
Tess Sapone, Briana Solis
10yd shot off Solis corner kick
20yd shot off deflection
6yd off corner kick
Shots: Troy 1, Florida 23
Saves: Troy (10, Haleigh Mercer 7, Mikki Lewis 3), Florida 0 (Susi Espinoza 0)