After losing to Auburn in the SEC home opener on Thursday night, the Gators had a lot to prove in their match against Tennessee Sunday. They were well up to the task, defeating the Volunteers 2-0 for their second shutout of the season.
From the beginning of the match, Florida was very aggressive on both sides of the ball. In the first 20 minutes of play, the Gators had eight shots, five of which were on goal. Each shot had a chance to go in for the goal, but Tennessee stayed in the game with tough defense. Florida had 24 total shots at the end of the game compared to Tennessee’s eight.
Gabby Seiler, a redshirt junior, and Savannah Jordan, a senior, led the Gator offense with a combined total of 15 shots, eleven of them being on goal. Even with Florida’s high-intensity offense, it wasn’t until the 69th minute did one finally go in to put the Gators up 1-0. As Tennessee tried to get the ball cleared, a pass went straight to Samantha Chung who put one touch on the ball to get it to Jordan. She was then one-on-one with a defender as she poked the ball past the goal keeper, Jamie Simmons. Florida head coach, Becky Burleigh, said after the game that good Gator defense was what led to their first goal.
The second goal for Florida came from freshman midfielder, Sammie Betters, in the 89th minute. While the Gators were trying to maintain possession to let more time off the clock, Betters believed she had an open look after Sarah Troccoli passed her the ball. From 23 yards out, she took the shot, the ball sailed over the hands of Simmons and went in the upper corner of the far post. The goal was Betters’ first collegiate goal and after the game she said she was happy to contribute to the team.
#Gators win! @SavannahJ__ and @samiambetters both score to help the Gators top the Vols! #GoGators pic.twitter.com/6Y8X5852Vd
— Gators Soccer (@GatorsSoccer) September 25, 2016
As you can imagine, Tennessee (6-5, 2-2 SEC) had a tough fight when it came to keeping the many shots they faced out of the goal. For the past three games now, the Volunteers have relied on playing two goal keepers each game. Sophomore, Shae Yanez, started in the first half and had eight fantastic saves to keep the game scoreless in the half. While in the second half Simmons, a redshirt senior, took over and although the two goals were scored against her, she also had five saves. With Florida’s many opportunities to score, it is hard to imagine a goal keeper would be able to stop all 15 shots on goal.
Florida now has a record of 7-3 and is 2-2 in the SEC. The Gators have proven to be a resilient team as they are now 3-0 after losses this season. Jordan was encouraged by her team’s ability to regroup after the loss to Auburn and says the win will help propel them through the rest of the season.
Next, they will go on the road to face LSU (6-6, 1-3 SEC) in Baton Rouge on Friday night at 8 p.m.