Gators Soccer Defeats In-State Rivals FAU and No. 18 USF in Opening Weekend

The Florida Gator soccer team dominated South Florida over the weekend defeating FAU and No. 18 USF. Deanne Rose, who represented Canada in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the summer, was the star of the weekend. Rose assisted one goal and scored three including a golden goal to beat FAU in overtime.

Action in South Florida

Florida kicked off their 2019 season against Florida Atlantic during a stormy night in Boca Raton on Friday.

FAU striker Pernille Velta from Norway opened the scoring in the 18th minute giving the home team an early lead. The Gators remained scoreless for the rest of the half. However, after half-time, a 30-minute storm delay and 10 minutes of play, Deanne Rose equalized off a pass from redshirt junior Kit Loferski. Cassidy Lindley had a dream start to her sophomore season despite coming off the bench by chipping FAU’s keeper from 35 yards out in the 74th minute. The Owls then scored in the 88th minute sending this series to its third-ever overtime when played in Boca Raton.

Rose was the star of the evening in South Florida when she scored her second, and golden goal, halfway through the first overtime. The Gators remain undefeated against the Owls despite a valiant effort from the home team.

Florida soccer continued it’s good run on Sunday when the team faced No. 18 USF in front of a record-breaking crowd of 2,011 at Corbett Soccer Stadium.

After a scoreless first half, Rose was served a ball over the top of the defense. Her blazing pace allowed her to beat the defender to then unselfishly square the ball to Loferski who tapped the ball in at 51st minute. In the 56th minute, Rose would again chase a long ball, but this time she took it upon herself to curl the ball around the Bulls goalkeeper and make it 2-0.

Junior goalkeeper Susi Espinoza matched-up Rose’s performance by recording a career-high eight saves. Her efforts helped Florida achieve its first clean sheet of the 2019 season.

SEC Offensive Player of the Week: Deanne Rose

Rose scored three goals and produced an assist in her first two games of her junior year. As a result, she claimed the first Southeastern Conference Offensive Soccer Player of the Week award.

Weekend Performance Analysis

Given coach Becky Burleigh’s 4-3-3 formation approach, the core of Gators lies on the two center backs and the center defensive midfielder. Center back pair, Georgia Eaton-Collins and Julia Lester, had lots of trouble when attempting to build up play from the back against FAU.

The Owls lined up with a basic 4-4-2 formation. As a result, the two strikers kept Eaton-Collins and Lester under pressure while their two central midfielders would double-team Parker Roberts who played as the defensive midfielder. FAU’s high-pressure and organization disrupted the Gators’ game plan.

USF’s formation allowed Florida to keep more possession and stay organized. Roberts played as a center back beside Lester due to Eaton-Collins’ international call-up and Tess Sapone started in the midfield. Sapone offered ball control and distribution while Roberts sent balls over the top of the opposition’s defense. In return, the Gators scored from two long balls. Roberts’s versatility in from the back gave the team a lively dynamic.

Burleigh had no favorites despite two astonishing personal performances by Rose and Espinoza.

Facts To Roar About

Here are some statistics and facts that help us analyze the game or simply just interesting, some according to Florida sports information director Mary Howard:

  • Alex Stubblebine turned 21 years old on Saturday. Wish her a happy belated birthday @AlexStubblebine!
  • Freshman Ava Kuyken from Oxford, England, made her Gators debut against FAU. Florida has now started a freshman in 19 out of its 25 season openers.
  • Rose, the golden goal girl! Out of Rose’s six game-winning goals for Florida, half are golden goals.
  • The Gators will rotate captaincy each match during the season, according to coach Burleigh.
    • Junior Parker Roberts and senior Julia Lester wore the captain armband vs. FAU
    • Sammie Betters was the captain vs. USF

West Coast Bound

After an in-state heavy weekend, the Gators will travel to Los Angeles next week to face a pair of Pac-12 powerhouses, No. 5 Southern California and No. 4 UCLA (United Soccer Coaches preseason top 25, through games Aug. 5, 2019).

Southern California – Thursday, Aug. 29 at 11 p.m.

UCLA – Sunday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m.

Burleigh acknowledges how difficult Gators soccer schedule will be starting with its trip to California.

About Juan Aguerrevere

Figuring out a plan to make it big in the soccer scene in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. For now, I'm having a blast writing for ESPN Gainesville and learning a lot from managers and students around the workplace. I'm covering the TV beat for Gators Soccer. What a team! Follow me on twitter: @J_AguerrevereUF

Check Also

Gators Looking to Bounce Back At O’Dome

The Gators need to get back in the win column. After back-to-back losses to No. …