After a pass blocked by Georgia Eaton-Collins went out the back end line, South Carolina set up for a corner.
Cameron Hall was able to momentarily clear the ball, however, South Carolina was quick and put it back in the box.
A shuffle in the box found sophomore Catherine Barry who finished with a sliding shot putting the ball in the lower right corner of the net, out of Alexa Goldberg’s reach.
Berry’s goal would be the decider in Thursday’s match, giving the Gamecocks a 2-1 victory over the Gators in their regular season finale. The Gators finished the season at 4-11-3 with ten points in conference play.
The match started in Florida’s favor as they took a 1-0 advantage in the 18th minute. Forward Madison Alexander took a left footed shot that got past South Carolina goalkeeper Heather Hinz to the bottom right of the net. Her goal came assisted by Kit Loferski and Eaton-Collins, the second straight match Loferski and Alexander connected for the opening goal.
That lead wouldn’t last long. A breakdown in the Gators back line allowed Gamecocks’ graduate Ryan Gareis through two defenders. She bounced a shot off the post past Goldberg for the equalizer.
Possession was held by Florida for much of the start of the second half. They kept the ball on the South Carolina end of the pitch, however, they could not settle down and create good looks at Hinz.
Tides turned after a South Carolina corner in the 77th minute. Catherine Barry’s team high sixth score put them ahead of the Gators and held for the win.
“I thought it was our best performance of the season: the energy, the approach to the game, our mentality, our attitude, our work rate, and how we executed,” said coach Amato, “We play a sport where you can play really well and not always come out on the winning end.”
Despite the loss Amato and the Gators’ hopes were still high for an SEC postseason berth.
“Their approach tonight was that we are going to get into the SEC tournament and find a way to still perform well and make a little run,” Amato claimed, “although this is [the seniors] last game here, we feel like we got more games in us.”
Their hopes would become reality when a Texas A&M loss advanced Florida to the SEC tournament as the tenth seed.
Florida will face seventh seed Vanderbilt in Sunday’s opening round in Orange Beach at 2 p.m.