Florida remains unbeaten in SEC play

Photo by Kristen Oliff / ChompTalk.com

The orange and blue are red hot.

Florida (8-4) continued SEC play on Sunday when they hosted No. 12 Texas A&M (9-2-2), who was also on a five-match win streak. The Gators came out victorious in the battle of the streaking conference teams, though, defeating the Aggies 3-1.


First Half

The Gators had a week off since they traveled to Music City and silenced No. 15 Vanderbilt. It seemed the rest served them well, as Florida took a very early lead.

In the sixth minute, the always-dangerous Kit Loferski was making a trademark long run down the flank when she was slide tackled in the box by an Aggie defender. The referee awarded a penalty, and midfielder Madison Alexander converted from the spot for her first goal of the season.

A clever individual skill produced a second Florida goal just 13 minutes later when Sammie Betters delivered a searching through ball up to the forwards. Cassidy Lindley saw the pass coming, and let it run through her legs for Vanessa Kara to meet on her way toward the goal. Kara then skipped the ball over A&M’s diving keeper and into the net to put the Gators up 2-0.

The remainder of the first half saw both teams struggle for good chances, and they entered the break with a shot count in Florida’s favor of 4-2.

Second Half

The Aggies began the second half looking like the better team. They possessed the ball in and around the Gators’ box often, but could not get a goal for their efforts.

However, the Gators, who were the more efficient attacking team on the evening, built on their lead in the 66th minute. Betters again provided an assist to the goal machine that is Kara. Betters slid a through ball by the right side of the box to find Kara six yards away from the net. Kara coolly placed the ball past the keeper for her eighth goal in her last six games.

The Aggies would keep themselves alive, though, when they got on the board in the 73rd minute. After some slick dribbling in the box, junior forward Taylor Ziemer released a shot that was too much for Florida goalkeeper Susi Espinoza to handle.

Senior A&M forward Ally Watt, the team’s leading scorer this season, had some shots in the final minutes of the game, but could not change the scoreline. Despite the Aggies having twice as many shots as Florida, the Gators were deserved, 3-1 victors.

Outlook for the Gators

Sunday’s victory marks six in a row for Burleigh’s squad. Kara says the team chemistry is a driving force of the streak.

“[Last year] the chemistry was something that kind of held [the team] back, and I think [this season] it is something that pushes us forward,” said Kara, “Our players are great, but are chemistry is better.”

Florida has six games left, and all are against SEC opponents. Their next match is Thursday against Ole Miss (7-3-2).

The Gators are undefeated in conference play (4-0) so far and trail only South Carolina in the SEC East standings.

Forward Deanne Rose and freshman midfielder Ava Kuyken both missed the Aggies clash, but they are expected to return to the team this week.

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