At the beginning of sudden-death overtime, both teams went up to the center circle for the draw control. As the whistle was blown, the ball flew in the air and was grabbed by Syracuse’s Bridget Daley.
Syracuse then brought it down to Florida’s end. They were moving it periodically around the goal about 16-feet away until 50 seconds passed on the clock.
The ball was passed to Syracuse’s Katie Webster, who spun and shot the ball from about 11-feet away. The Gators were stunned that she took that shot and were even more shocked when it went in after only 55 seconds in overtime.
After the goal went in, one of the referees checked Webster’s stick as they do periodically throughout the match to see if she was using an illegal stick. As the Gators and their 914 fans in attendance held their breath, the referee signaled goal to end the game.
“We put ourselves in a hole in sudden death,” Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said, “And it’s just really tough to come back.”
The Florida Gators (4-2, 0-0) lost a heartbreaker at home on Saturday afternoon to the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (2-2, 0-0) 12-11 in sudden-death overtime.
After coming back from an early four-goal deficit and then a three-goal deficit later, the Gators were always able to find a way back to tie the score against the Orange. Even in overtime, the Gators were able to rebound after letting a goal in by getting in one of their own to tie it at 10-all.
Then the game went into sudden-death overtime where the first team to score wins. Considering that the Gators hadn’t led all game, they were looking to get their first lead of the game to essentially seal the match with a win.
Unfortunately, they didn’t.
“You got to dig deep. You got to find a way to get that ball,” O’Leary said when talking about the final draw control, “And unfortunately, we didn’t. We needed to come up with a big stop at the end, and unfortunately, we didn’t do that either.”
Overall, the statistics for both teams were fairly even. Syracuse had 13 saves and Florida had 10. The Orange scooped up 14 ground balls and the Gators picked up 16. Florida won 15 draw controls while Syracuse won 12. The Gators fouled 23 times and the Orange fouled 22. They both even had 16 successful clears.
On paper, there wasn’t much to separate these two teams, except the amount of shots.
The Gators shot the ball an overwhelming 39 times compared to the Orange’s 26 shots. The difference was Syracuse’s shots were on target. When Syracuse shot the ball, 85 percent of the time it would either be blocked by the goalie, hit the goal post or land in the goal. Florida, on the other hand, only had 62 percent of their shots on target.
“We generated a lot of shots, but unfortunately didn’t put many in the back of the net,” O’Leary said, “And that’s a problem. Offensively, when we are given 39 opportunities to score, we’ve got to make the most of those. Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Junior Brittany Dashiell knew how to capitalize on her opportunities scoring three times on five shots. She also added an assist in the game. But more impressively, Syracuse’s Sarah Holden scored three goals on only four shot with all of them being on target.
Junior Kitty Cullen didn’t have the outstanding performance Gators fans are used to seeing. She shot the ball 10 times, with five shots being on target. She was able to rack up one goal along with an assist, but one has to wonder how different this game would have been if she could have finished at least one more of her shots.
On the positive note, the Gators only had nine turnovers while Syracuse compiled 20. Florida was able to control the ball intelligently throughout the game — winning in the turnover and draw control categories, but it did not translate into a win for them.
The Gators will need to get over this loss quickly as they play at the No. 18 Georgetown Hoyas Wednesday afternoon. It’s Georgetown’s first match of the season.
“I think we have to get back to the basics,” O’Leary said. “We have to do a better job of coming out against Georgetown with a fire. We can’t get down. We’ve got to play with confidence, and we are going to learn from this loss.”