Despite a valiant effort by the visiting Western Michigan Broncos (14-4-4), Saturday night the Florida Gator soccer team (18-3-1) advanced into the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 1-0 home win.
Offensively, the Gators were stagnant early on, sending seven shots in the first half but failing to find the back of the net. The Broncos were anchored by their goalkeeper, Stephanie Heber, who had four saves throughout the game.
The Gators relied on a strong defensive performance by Claire Falknor and Western Michigan was limited to a single shot attempt in the first half.
The Orange and Blue came out firing after halftime, sending in eight more shot attempts and connecting in the 48th minute. The only goal of the night came from Savannah Jordan, who was assisted by Briana Solis before separating from defenders and sending in an 18 yard score.
“I think it was a great build-up from our team.” Jordan said of the goal. “I got the ball out wide, outside the 18, and I kind of looked up and just hit it far post. But, initially, it was a great build-up and I think we did a good job of getting the ball there.”
Despite Florida taking the lead, Western Michigan continued to pressure the ball and force mistakes late in the game. The Broncos also attempted eight shots in the second half, as Gator goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese recorded all three of her saves in the second half.
The Broncos made some impressive adjustments in the second half, but still failed to find the equalizer.
“The second half got a little rough there…they put a lot of pressure on us.” Falknor said of Western Michigan.
The Gators responded well to the pressure, keeping the ball away and creating multiple offensive opportunities with the lead. The Gators now look forward to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they will face William & Mary on November 20th.
“I just know that our team, all year, we’ve worked really hard at overcoming adversity together as a group.” Gator head coach Becky Burleigh said. “And I think that today was just another example of that.”