The 17th ranked Florida Gators soccer team were searching for revenge when they took the field in Orange Beach, Alabama on Tuesday. The Gators were on a three-game losing streak to Auburn. Last time the Gators faced Auburn was back on October 15th and the Gators fell 1-0. In the SEC Tournament, it was the Gators who came out on top over the Tigers 1-0. This was the second time that the Gators opened tournament play by beating a team they lost to in the regular season. The win sends the Gators to their 20th appearance in the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament.
The Perfect Kick
Gators’ Lais Araujo was put in a situation that she has never been in this season. An Auburn foul in the 31st minute put Araujo in her first free kick opportunity of the season. The free kick was set up twenty yards from the goal on the left side of the Auburn box. Araujo booted the soccer ball and went untouched as it reached the back of the net, giving the Gators a 1-0 lead. This was Araujo’s second goal of the season and, perhaps, the biggest goal of the Gators’ season so far.
The Auburn Tigers were tamed thanks to another dominating performance from the Gator defense. The Gators pitched their ninth shutout on the season. The defense didn’t give Auburn many chances to get on the scoreboard. The Tigers only had ten shots for the game, three of which were on goal. When Auburn had an opportunity to make things interesting, Gator goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese squashed those hopes. The junior had four saves to preserve her 20th career shutout. Two of those saves could have been game changing saves. Marckese stopped Auburn’s junior midfielder Ellie Leak’s shot on a clearance deflection in the fourteenth minute. When Auburn was given a free kick, different story. Marckese blocked Auburn senior midfielder Courtney Schell’s free kick in the 27th minute.
After getting their first win over Auburn in four tries, the Gators advance to semi-final round of the SEC Tournament. In the semi-final round, Florida will face Texas A&M. The Aggies are coming off the most dominating win of the tournament so far, beating Missouri 7-1 Tuesday. The Gators and Aggies will meet Thursday with the winner advancing to the SEC Championship game.