Photo by Kristen Oliff /

The Gators traveled to Knoxville on nearly a week’s rest and having won seven of their last eight games. The Volunteers were 8-5-2 overall, but struggling in conference play, posting a 2-4-1 SEC record.

It was the Vols, though, who would help themselves to a win, defeating a drab Florida side 1-0.


The Gators began the game holding more possession and attacked in their usual fashion, getting the ball out wide to the wings and either crossing or cutting in from there.

Florida came close to opening the scoring from such a chance. In the 31st minute, Kit Loferski beat her defender on the wing with a step-over before sending in a low cross to a waiting Kouri Peace. Peace, facing an open net, could not direct her effort on target.

The first half came to a close with a Tennessee chance, when midfielder Katie Cousins’ curled shot was routinely saved by Susi Espinoza. Both teams registered four shots by the break, but few were threatening.

The Volunteers would strike soon after play resumed, when in the 51st minute Florida defender Carina Baltrip-Reyes gave the ball away to forward MA Vignola in the Gators’ half.

After a missed clearance by Sammie Betters, Vignola found Cousins in the box, who easily slid the ball past a hopeless Espinoza to put the Volunteers up 1-0.

Tennessee was unlucky not to score again in the 60th minute, when Vignola was put through on goal with a sleek pass from Isabella Cook, but her long shot hit the post.

Florida is familiar with comeback victories, like their most recent 2-1 win against Auburn, and as the second half continued it looked like the Gators had it in them.

They began to look the better team and generated some chances until the 81st minute, when Loferski was awarded a foul at the top of the Tennessee box. Loferski, who, along with the most of the Gators, had been pestered all night by Tennessee’s characteristically tough SEC-caliber defense, let her emotions get the best of her and yelled at the ref, who promptly sent her off for dissent.

The Gators would finish the game with 10 women and their first loss since Oct. 10.

Florida had 14 shots, 7 on target at the final whistle, compared to Tennessee’s 7, 3 on target.

Gator Outlook

Florida holds a 10-6 record with two games left in the regular season. The team has a comfortable grip on third in the SEC standings, but next plays No. 8 South Carolina on Sunday afternoon.