Florida soccer fell to Vanderbilt Commodores Sunday night at Donald R. Dizney stadium.
The Gators welcomed the Commodores hoping to bounce Back after losing against the Aggies on the road. Instead, Vanderbilt scored a late goal in the 102nd minute during the second overtime period.
The Gators played their most complete game since the beginning of the season, but an aggressive Vanderbilt team confused and forced them to double overtime, resulting a 2-1 Commodores win.
A more composed Gator team
In their last meeting, the Gators talked about regaining their identity back. They want to play short balls while pressuring the other team to score, while remaining calm.
Yes, they displayed all those in the first period.
“It’s a very disappointing way to lose because I felt like we were much more ourselves tonight than we have been. If you look at just the outcome, obviously you’re not satisfied with it but if you look at the way that we played, it was a big improvement,” Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh.
The Gators played an intense first half as expected, but the pressure on them never stopped. The Gators possessed the ball and managed to create good chances.
The Gators’ possession finally paid off four minutes before the pause. Parker Roberts serviced freshman Maddy Rhodes who ran down the center of the box. Rhodes’ right-foot slid the ball to the goal beating two Vandy’s defenders on the way in to put Florida out in front.
At half time, the Gators were the better team, but the entire second half was ahead of them and was still anyone game.
The pace did not change. The Gators entered the second half with the same aggression while the Commodores intensified their pressure.
The Commodores found what they had been looking for throughout the whole game. Abi Brighton’s pass to Raegan Kelley tied the game entering the last 10 minutes of the regulation time.
After conceding the goal, Gators players took a little time to come back to the game. The unexpected goal displayed Florida’s confusion and frustration. It seemed like they forgot how to play the ball.
Like any predator, the Commodores could feel Gators’ fear and took advantage of it. They did not stop creating possibilities forcing a double overtime.
Last action of the game was for the Commodores. Leila Azari hit the ball to the far post. Myra Konte received the ball and scrambled it into the goal for the 2-1 Commodores win.
Gators missed up to nine chances to score. They dominated the game but folded in the last 30 minutes of the game.
We found a more complacent Gator soccer team in the last game.
“I definitely felt like we were a little more connected with one another and I think that led to more offensive chances for us for sure,” coach Becky said.
Susi Espinoza hasn’t planned to stop surprising people anytime soon.
“That position is huge and Suzi’s done a great job making some big saves when necessary,” coach Becky.
UF soccer played in pink for their 12th annual pink game to show their support for those fighting cancer.
“We talked before the game, everybody on this team has been affected by cancer in some way. We have Lo [senior Lauren Evans] who battled leukemia. So pink is obviously breast cancer, but my grandfather died of lung cancer,” freshman forward Rhodes said.
Florida redshirt junior Kit Loferski left the match in the 57th minute after taking a hard tumble.
The Gators are taking to the road with a match in Columbia, SC on Sunday against the Gamecocks. Game starts at 2:00 p.m.