MIAMI – The No. 9 Florida soccer team (2-0-0, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) finished its opening weekend of play with a 2-0 win Sunday night at Florida International (0-2-0, 0-0-0 Sun Belt Conference).
It was the exact same score as Friday’s season-opening win at Miami, where the Gators also scored in each half off of a goal from a freshman and a returning player
Jazmyne Avant’s cross into the box in the 40th minute led to the Gators’ first goal. The cross found three Gators moving toward the goal and the ball deflected around the box. It was freshman Tessa Andujar who placed it past the keeper for her first goal as a Gator.
“I was happy when I scored, and I was really happy to help the team. To get in there and score a goal was really exciting,” Andujar said. “The ball was getting pinged everywhere. I saw it and just turned. It was reactionary – I just turned and shot it.”
She joined fellow freshman Havana Solaun as first-time goal scorers this weekend, as Solaun provided UF with its second-half goal Friday.
The Gators continued pressing the FIU goalkeeper in the second half and were finally were rewarded in the 63rd minute. At the top of the box, freshman Annie Speese slid the ball to her right and Tahnai Annis placed the ball into the far post corner from 12 yards
Annis said her original thought was to play the ball to a teammate also in the box, but the opportunity became hers.
“We were running up the backline and Annie was running with the ball. There were a few people making runs at the backline I kind of pulled up and Annie found me in the seams there,” Annis said. “Actually, I was trying to play a one-two with Taylor (Travis) because she was in front of me. But when I played the ball in, the defender actually ran into the ball and it came back to my feet. From there, I had a straight look at the goal so I just kept going with it and put it in.”
With the goal, Annis moved into sixth on the Gators career points chart, as the goal moved her past All-American Erin Baxter (1995-98). She now owns 72 points off of 29 goals and 14 assists.
Freshman Taylor Burke made her first start as goalkeeper, recording three saves. Among her saves Sunday was a diving save to her left to deny a hard shot off a corner kick in the 85th minute.
UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh liked, and didn’t like, some of the Gators’ stretches of play Sunday.
“It was what we expected. Sunday games are never easy and on the road kind of doubles that,” Burleigh said. “I thought we had some good stretches of possession and dictating what we wanted to do, but probably too many stretches of us just being a little bit sloppy. But you know it’s early in the season so we’ll work on it this week before we play again.”
The Gators next two games will be against preseason top-20 teams at the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic as Florida opens play at the Classic with preseason No. 11 Texas A&M on Aug. 26, and then meets No. 16 UCLA on Aug. 28. Game coverage will begin at 5:20 p.m., Friday on WRUF SportsRadio 850.