As the season draws to a close for Florida Gators soccer, its more of the same. Each game seems like a broken record. The Gators couldn’t find the back of the net once again. Florida falls to Missouri 2-0 on Sunday as the race for the final few spots in the SEC Tournament still up for grabs.
Missouri set the tempo early in Sunday’s match. Within the first 10 minutes, the Tigers already put the Gators in a hole. A deep cross from Missouri sophomore Bella Alessi led to a one-touch goal from junior forward Sarah Luebbert. This first goal was huge for Missouri. With the Gators struggling all year to score, one goal felt like two for Florida.
Then, in the second half, Florida was really in a difficult spot. In the 66th minute, Missouri tried to convert on a header in the box from sophomore Morcquess Oliphant. The header didn’t work, but it was tapped in by a sliding freshman forward Skye Kingsley.
“The second goal was truly a back-breaker for us,” Gators head coach Becky Burleigh said postgame. “I thought we started the second half really strong. Came out with some good opportunities and pressure on them. But I think we got a little impatient when that didn’t pay off and the second goal was the back-breaker.”
Even though the Gators had a 14-11 advantage in shots, they still failed to find the back of the net. This is the fifth SEC match of the year where the Gators didn’t score a goal. Florida has scored only one goal in its last six matches.
The Gators are one of five teams competing for the final three spots in next week’s SEC Tournament. Florida leads the five teams trying to secure a spot in Orange Beach, Alabama in points with 11. Right behind the Gators, Auburn and Missouri are tied with 10 points. Then Alabama and Mississippi State have 8 points.
The conference ends regular season play on Thursday. For Florida, it’s very simple. The Gators win their regular season finale against Arkansas, they are in the SEC Tournament. If the Gators tie, they need to scoreboard watch. A tie would mean each of the team’s behind Florida are in play with a win.
The teams who have already clinched spots include: Vanderbilt, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas A&M, and LSU.
There are three games for Florida soccer fans to keep their eyes on. Auburn hosts rival Alabama. Missouri has a tough one when they hit the road to take on No. 18 Tennessee in Knoxville. No. 25 Mississippi State host LSU.
Florida has one more chance to secure its spot in the SEC Tournament. It won’t be an easy one for the Gators. They host Arkansas, who is second in the conference standings, on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.