Tony Amato records debut victory in exhibition match

Photo by Benjamin Fox |

The Florida Gators kicked off 2021 with a bang after achieving a comeback victory in an exhibition match with Southern Mississippi on Thursday.

A penalty kick from substitute Madison Alexander rifled to the back of the net to give the Gators a go-ahead 2-1 lead in the 78th minute.

Florida had to overcome an early 1-0 deficit after Southern Miss freshman Adaira Nakano booted in a right-foot shot to give the Golden Eagles an advantage.

The Gators were behind most of the match and came back in the 67th minute. Junior forward Kouri Peace found a way to place the ball between the posts and shift the momentum back to the Florida sideline.

Redshirt sophomore Nicole Vernis came away with an assist on the play.

Then Alexander placed a dagger in Southern Miss’ preseason hopes with her penalty shot nine minutes later.

The exhibition victory in Orange Beach, Alabama is Florida head coach Tony Amato’s first win with his new team. Amato took over coaching duties after former head coach Becky Burleigh announced her resignation before the 2020 season.

Florida will open the 2021 regular season with the No. 20 South Florida Bulls in Tampa next Thursday at 7 p.m.

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