Following their 2-3 loss at Auburn to finish off a three-game stretch on the road, the Florida Gators soccer team returned home to face SEC foe Kentucky. The 1,428 fans on hand at Pressly Stadium Friday night witnessed an overall controlling performance by the Gators that ultimately resulted in a tie. While the scoreboard read 1-1 as the final seconds ticked off the clock at the end of the second extra period, that does not indicate how one-sided the performance looked and statistically- according to shots taken was.
Florida attempted 23 shots in regulation and finished with 27 shots. For reference, the Wildcats only mustered three shots in regulation and five when the scoreboard read all zeros. To add to that, Kentucky was not even able to attempt any shots until about two-thirds of the way into the first half. Even then they only rattled off two, leaving the last shot for the second half. Gators head coach Becky Burleigh even stated that she thought “it was a dominating performance by the Gators.” Unfortunately for the Gators, the one shot in the second period also happened to be the one that rendered their body of work in the first and second halves void.
After a first five minutes that saw the Gators play a bit conservative, Florida turned it on quick and began taking shots in bunches with Savannah Jordan leading the show. When all was said and done, Jordan had 12 shots on the night, highlighted by her goal at the 40:15 mark. This would turn out to be Florida’s only goal of the night as they would only have two more legitimate attempts on the goal for the rest of the night neither of which came to fruition.
As the Gators came into the second half, they had all the confidence and momentum with them as they had just scored to end the first period and had outshot Kentucky six to one. But the Wildcats had other plans as they took full advantage of their only shot of the half immediately. Only three minutes and 31 seconds into the second period, Kentucky’s Kaitlin Miller took a shot from near the right corner of the box, lobbed it over Goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese’s head, and snuck it inside the upper left corner of the goal.
The officials soon drew the ire of- and loud boos from- the Florida crowd when they called a questionable foul on what might as well have been the entire Gators team as it was during a corner kick. After the kick went up, the usual scramble ensued for the ball and it was promptly zipped into the goal. The crowd began cheering and then passionately booing as they found out Florida had committed some sort of infraction that none of the fans saw. Whether or not the foul should have been called is debatable, but in the end Florida had many more opportunities that just did not go their way on Friday night.
The nearest opportunity either team would have to score again would not come until overtime. While Kentucky did come away with one shot that forced Marckese to lay out in order to prevent the score, Florida fans will remember the agonizingly close shot again by Jordan- in the second extra period. Shooting from the left side of the field across the goal to the right end, she punched the shot that was off by just inches. Looking like it may go in, the crowd watched as the hopeful golden goal smacked the post and Kentucky regained possession. So close yet so far.
Savannah Jordan leads the Gators with 13 goals.
This is now the third tie in the 26 meetings between the two programs.
Florida heads to Knoxville to face a university in Tennessee that is mentally reeling after their fellow football team’s dismantling in the 4th quarter last weekend by the Gators no less.
Kentucky was charged with 7 fouls on the night while the Gators were charged with 11. Two yellow cards were handed out on the night: one to Kentucky’s Zoe Swift and the other to Florida’s Savannah Jordan.