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Gators Soccer Defeats Georgia; Wins Third Straight

After a shutout loss to Auburn to open their home SEC schedule, the Gator soccer team have bounced in a winning way, grabbing their third straight victory in a 3-1 win over Georgia. The win moves the No. 16 Gators to 9-3 overall and 4-2 in the SEC, while Georgia falls to 3-9-1 overall, and 0-6 in the SEC, leaving the Bulldogs in last place.

Savannah Jordan earned a second-half brace on the evening, scoring two goals against Georgia for the second straight year, and Meggie Dougherty Howard scored an impressive first half strike to give the Gators the lead they never gave up. Georgia did get on the scoreboard late though, with midfielder Mariel Gutierrez scoring at the 73rd minute. Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh said she’s happy with how the team is playing, especially since their starting to “play for each other”.

In a game which the start time was moved from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. due to Hurricane Matthew, the Gators came out sluggish in the opening 30 minutes. Both teams struggled to create clear opportunities, as both teams’ pressing made crisp passing and connection difficult for both sides. Through the first half hour, there were as many combined fouls in the game as there were combine shots

After those first thirty minutes though, the Gators put a foot on the pedal that they never took off.

Savannah Jordan started to make her presence felt, gaining a couple of one-one-one opportunities that she failed to put away due to good defending by Georgia and good goalkeeping by Louise Hogrell. Despite not scoring, Jordan was creating danger that had Florida on the front foot for the rest of the game.

The first goal of the game came just before the stroke of halftime after a moment of magic from Dougherty Howard. Florida defender Rachelle Smith ran the ball down the left side, and slipped the ball to Dougherty Howard’s feet in the box. Dougherty Howard took the ball, faked right, spun left and struck the ball with her left foot into the far side panel to open the scoring and give the Gators the 1-0 lead. Dougherty Howard said it was a key moment in the match to get a goal right before the break.

Jordan picked up the scoring from there for Florida.

Just five minutes into the second half, Jordan saw an outside the box effort deflect off of a Georgia defender and hit the forearm of another in the box. Jordan calmly stepped up and slotted away the penalty to give Florida the 2-0 lead. Jordan said she was relieved she was able to score considering her history with penalties.

Jordan got her brace and 75th goal of her Gator career at the 68th minute. Brooke Sharp threaded a through ball to Jordan, for which she fought three Georgia defenders. The ball eventually sat in the box for Jordan, who took a touch before blasting a right footed shot upper 90, sending the ball into the top left-hand corner. The shot put Florida on top 3-0 and effectively sealed the win for the Gators with just over 20 minutes left in the match.

Georgia did grab a consolation goal however via midfielder Mariel Gutierrez. At the 73rd minute, Gutierrez stole the ball from the Gator defense, and pulling up from 22 yards out, unleashed a low, right footed effort. The shot skipped past Florida goalie Kaylan Marckese and found its way in the lower left-hand corner of the net, erasing Florida’s clean sheet.

The rain and wind started to pick up as the game approached full-time, but the Gators closed out the game without any more difficulties to take the 3-1 victory.

Up Next

Florida faces a crucial two game road stretch coming up. They’ll travel to Oxford to take on Ole Miss on October 9th, before traveling to Columbia to take on the 4th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks the following Sunday.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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