Florida Gators soccer opens 2018 season with a win

Special report on the Florida Gators soccer team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two second-half goals gave the University of Florida soccer team a season-opening 2-1 win over Washington Friday evening at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Last year when the two teams met in Seattle, the Huskies provided the only goal in the first two minutes and took the 1-0 win.

Tonight, the Huskies again struck first off a play that began with a corner kick. Ruby Hellstrom scored from eight yards in the 35th minute.

With UF coaching staff’s halftime message to use the width of the field on their minds, the Gators did exactly that on Sammie Betters’ tying goal in the 54th minute.

The ball started on the left side with senior Sarah Troccoli and moved to the middle of the field to freshman Cassidy Lindley. She saw Betters heading down the right side of the box, playing a ball for Betters to catch. When Betters did catch up to the ball, she took a touch before blasting a 16-yard shot to the upper slot.

The game-winning goal came when sophomore Madison Alexander pressured a touch from Washington’s goalkeeper to UW centerback Jessica Udovich. The ball popped free in the box. Alexander was the first to reach it, scoring from 10 yards on the empty goal.

Worth Noting

*         Florida is now 18-4-2 all-time in season openers and 13-1-1 when the season starts in Gainesville.

*         Better’s goal was the second of her career and first since her 2016 season was shortened with a knee injury.

*         Alexander’s score was her fourth Gator goal, with all coming in Florida’s last 15 matches.

*         This was Florida’s second consecutive match at Dizney Stadium versus a Pac-12 opponent. Florida closed last season with a 1-0 double-overtime win versus Washington State in NCAA Sweet 16 play. Tonight, Florida opened the 2018 season versus the Pac-12’s other program from The Evergreen State.

Florida: 1-0-0, 0-0 SEC
Washington: 0-1-0, 0-0 Pac-12

What the Gators Said:
What was the halftime talk?
“Use the width. There were so many people in the middle of the field. It was just very packed, so we just had to get the ball out wide. The first goal came from a ball out wide and the second originated from out wide too. I think we just have to trust ourselves that we can serve some quality balls in the box and cause some chaos.” – Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh

What does it say about your team to come back like they did and to never give up?
“I think this is an experienced group so they knew what to do. We were sitting in the locker room at halftime and nobody was down about being down one nothing. It was a matter of executing a little bit better. We were disappointed to give up a goal on a set piece. That was something we worked on but we will learn from that. It is game one.” – Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh

What did you see from the team tonight?
“For the first game of the season, this was a really good show as far as grit goes. It might not have gone our way in the beginning but it is really cool that in this early of the season we proved that we can come back from something like that. I am really proud of us and thought that we did a really great job.” – junior defender Sammie Betters

Can you talk about tying up the game?
“I want to do whatever I can for the team so today it was scoring, tomorrow might be assisting, the next day might be cheering from the sideline. Whatever I can do to help my team, I’m there to do. It was really cool I got to score today but next time it could be Maddie or Mel or anyone else so I’m just happy that we’re doing well.” – junior defender Sammie Betters

What did you see on your goal?
“The net. I saw we had players in the box but the goalie was kind of misplaced to the left so I went for it.” – junior defender Sammie Betters

What happened on your goal?
“I was pressing late in the game and everyone was a bit fatigued. Their goalie and centerback kind of had a little mix up and the ball came out. I saw an open goal so I slid it in.

“I was very excited. It is cool to see that we can come back from being down. At halftime we knew we were not losing this game and we kept fighting until the very last minute.” – sophomore midfielder Madison Alexander

Preseason Conference Votes:
Florida took third in the 2017 SEC regular-season standings. Washington was ninth in the 2017 Pac-12 standings.

Florida – The SEC coaches picked the Gators to win the 2018 Southeastern Conference title<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__floridagators.com_news_2018_8_13_florida-2Dis-2Dsoccer-2Dcoaches-2Dpreseason-2Dpick-2Dfor-2D2018-2Dsec-2Dtitle.aspx&d=DwIFAg&c=pZJPUDQ3SB9JplYbifm4nt2lEVG5pWx2KikqINpWlZM&r=6MG06PG_fwpe7ULfewi6NrFR2j_4ngNZtgGHhDCeRY0&m=5azbz8xH4EmwO4brVS8Cro9SQVMjb-Z-2VUoAJ2ejC8&s=oYoGTXgbN4tBWP3lMfP2NPwLjpxt8M9VfraiPUEHYh0&e=>.

UW – The Huskies are picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__pac-2D12.com_article_2018_08_06_stanford-2Dpicked-2Dwin-2D2018-2Dpac-2D12-2Dwomens-2Dsoccer-2Dtitle&d=DwIFAg&c=pZJPUDQ3SB9JplYbifm4nt2lEVG5pWx2KikqINpWlZM&r=6MG06PG_fwpe7ULfewi6NrFR2j_4ngNZtgGHhDCeRY0&m=5azbz8xH4EmwO4brVS8Cro9SQVMjb-Z-2VUoAJ2ejC8&s=EqB1qnELBcp-S0xRsXXgahyi7fzMjJJO49Oyqyx2haE&e=>. Defending NCAA champion Stanford is the Pac-12’s preseason pick to win the league.

Florida ranks No. 7 on the preseason United Soccer Coaches (USC) poll<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__unitedsoccercoaches.org_web_Rankings_College-5FRankings_NCAA-5FDI-5FWOMEN_web_rankings_ncaa_di-5Fwomen.aspx&d=DwIFAg&c=pZJPUDQ3SB9JplYbifm4nt2lEVG5pWx2KikqINpWlZM&r=6MG06PG_fwpe7ULfewi6NrFR2j_4ngNZtgGHhDCeRY0&m=5azbz8xH4EmwO4brVS8Cro9SQVMjb-Z-2VUoAJ2ejC8&s=3cGXAIBLGVwn4-LXhBltCcRN7_2lRft-Yq9kpgi7QMk&e=>.

It is the 22nd consecutive Florida appearance in the coaches’ association preseason poll and the seventh straight year the Gators open among the nation’s top 10. Florida faces seven teams ranked in the United Soccer Coaches preseason top 25.

The Dizney Stadium is the site for four of those matches – No. 2 UCLA (Aug. 31), No. 12 Southern California (Sept. 2), No. 23 Ohio State (Aug. 24) and No. 25 Tennessee (Oct. 4). Florida travels to meet preseason No. 5 South Carolina (Oct. 7), No. 10 Florida State (Sept. 7) and No. 16 Central Florida.

Florida’s Fan-tastic Weekend:
Gator soccer kicks and closes Florida Fan-tastic Weekend events<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__floridagators.com_news_2018_8_10_florida-2Dfan-2Dtastic-2Dsoccer-2Dvolleyball-2Dfootball-2Dteams-2Don-2Ddisplay-2Daug-2D17-2D19.aspx&d=DwIFAg&c=pZJPUDQ3SB9JplYbifm4nt2lEVG5pWx2KikqINpWlZM&r=6MG06PG_fwpe7ULfewi6NrFR2j_4ngNZtgGHhDCeRY0&m=5azbz8xH4EmwO4brVS8Cro9SQVMjb-Z-2VUoAJ2ejC8&s=ATKSp8mINM2bZSBgBr4fx8quyFLECP7ePHGXRCjwgNw&e=>.

Sunday’s Promotions – vs Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m.
Faith and Family Night – local churches are invited to attend the game

Gator volleyball and football also have Fan-tastic events planned for the weekend:
Volleyball Fan Day
Saturday, Aug. 18 | 2 p.m. | Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Get the 2018 Gators to autograph your official 2018 Florida volleyball schedule poster (available at Saturday’s event) following the Orange & Blue Debut scrimmage.

Football Fan Day
Sunday, Aug. 19 | 2 p.m. | Indoor Practice Facility
Head Coach Dan Mullen and players available to autograph the official 2018 Florida football schedule poster (available at Sunday’s event).

Florida Atlantic opened its home season with a 3-2 loss to Miami.

Listen to Kyle Crooks and Matthew Stubbington’s call of Sunday’s match while watching on SEC Network +<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.espn.com_watch_-5F_id_3422198_florida-2Datlantic-2Dvs-2Dflorida-2Dw-2Dsoccer&d=DwIFAg&c=pZJPUDQ3SB9JplYbifm4nt2lEVG5pWx2KikqINpWlZM&r=6MG06PG_fwpe7ULfewi6NrFR2j_4ngNZtgGHhDCeRY0&m=5azbz8xH4EmwO4brVS8Cro9SQVMjb-Z-2VUoAJ2ejC8&s=Uv3rtna6rdZFrnn874yu_AWLpD12eTUIE8vLZaM43-k&e=>.

Ryan Urquhart and Gator alum Daniela Sanchez cover Sunday’s match for ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.wruf.com_listen-2Dlive_&d=DwIFAg&c=pZJPUDQ3SB9JplYbifm4nt2lEVG5pWx2KikqINpWlZM&r=6MG06PG_fwpe7ULfewi6NrFR2j_4ngNZtgGHhDCeRY0&m=5azbz8xH4EmwO4brVS8Cro9SQVMjb-Z-2VUoAJ2ejC8&s=Nei5Zq2FBPaR4jbO3z757xp8mjksiiNAqPdUwr14DUQ&e=> – also can hear on FloridaGators.com.

Washington (0-1-0, 0-0-0 Pac-12) at No. 7 Florida (1-0-0, SEC 0-0-0)

Stadium: Donald R. Dizney Stadium (721)

Weather: 82 degrees, winds SSW at 4 mph, 75% humidity

Goals by Period












Scoring Summary:




Goal Scorer






Rubby Hellstrom

Lisa Jensen

Eight yard




Sammie Betters

Cassidy Lindley, Sarah Troccoli

16-yards to upper slot




Madison Alexander

Pressured ball, scoring on empty net

Shots: Washington 11, Florida 15

Saves: Washington 7 (Siena Ruelas); Florida 4 (Kaylan Marckese 4)

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.