The Florida Gator soccer team avoids a third straight loss Sunday at Pressly Stadium, defeating Auburn in an early afternoon tilt 3-0.
The Gators benefitted from three goals in the first half along with a clean sheet from goalkeeper and Norwegian international Nora Neset Gjoen, and played disciplined defensive soccer, holding Auburn to five shots in the match. Florida midfielder Liz Slattery says the result was just what Florida needed.
Florida generated a scoring chance with 32 minutes to go in the first half, midfielder Lauren Smith split two defenders and unleashed an off-balance shot attempting to beat Auburn keeper Alicen Wright, but the shot rolled wide right.
The Gators kept applying steady pressure in the minutes after Smith’s chance, and they finally broke through. The Gators scored with 29 minutes to go, as Christen Westphal sent a corner kick into the box that found the head of Savannah Jordan. Jordan’s effort was headed off the line but right to freshman midfielder Pamela Begic, who finished on a header. However, Begic’s follow through forced her to collide with Auburn keeper Alicen Wright, knocking them both out of the match with injuries. Florida head coach Becky Burleigh says she appreciates the gutsy scoring play by her freshman forward.
The Gators seemed poised for a second goal with 20 minutes to go in the first stanza but a shot labeled for the twine from the Gators was blocked by Auburn defender Kala Faulkner and then promptly cleared.
The Gators scored their second of the match on a ball played in behind the Auburn defense from Liz Slattery, the ball found the charging Jillian Graff who volleyed the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage. Slattery recounts her feed to Graff.
The Gators got a third before the half was out. With a little over five minutes left in the first half Caroline Trigilia, who was unmarked, headed home a cross to the back post from midfielder Lindsey Cooper. Triglia’s tally was her second on the year.
In the first half, the offensive energy for Florida was coupled with defensive discipline. The Gators defense did not concede a shot to Auburn until there were fewer than two minutes to play in the first half.
The second half was much of the same story for Florida, who only gave up four shots to the Auburn offense in the half.
The win puts the Gators at 3-2 in conference play. Florida only plays one match in the coming week, it plays Mississippi State in Starkville on October 11th.