No. 6 Florida State defeated the Florida Gators 2-1 on Friday in front of a crowd of 3,154 at Seminole Soccer Complex. Given the result, the all-time series record is tied for the first time in history.
Unforgettable Rival Night: How It All Went Down
The Gators went into this match with a noticeable absence and a couple of additions.
Cassidy Lindley started on the left flank for Deanne Rose who missed her second game of the season due to a hamstring injury. Despite this loss, Sophomore Georgia Eaton-Collins and Freshman Ava Kuyken returned to action after their English call-ups. These were the only changes coach Becky Burleigh made ahead of the match.
Florida State dominated the first half through Chinese International Yujie Zhao who ran the show from the midfield. However, players from both teams walked off the pitch at halftime without scoring.
The second half was a different tale. The Gators got off to an incredible start through Tess Sapone‘s solo effort ending in a half-volley strike from 14 yards out.
The Gators’ lead was short-lived as Kristen McFarland made the best out of Florida’s goalkeeper Suzi Espinoza‘s mistake in the 57th minute. The home team took the lead in the 71st minute. Zhao, who is ranked eighth in the Preseason Top Drawer Soccer player rankings, met the expectations by scoring the game-winner.
However, controversy struck in the 80th minute when Florida State’s goalkeeper Caroline Jeffers was sent off after a VAR review. Nevertheless, substitute keeper Brooke Bollinger read redshirt junior Parker Roberts‘ penalty and secured the win for the Seminoles.
80’ | @parkerrRoberts kicks it left, but the substitute goalkeeper guesses.
— Juan Aguerrevere (@J_AguerrevereUF) September 7, 2019
Positives From the Match
Thoughts on the game:
“These games never fail to disappoint. Every Florida-Florida State game is going to be one like this. Great match for the fans, great environment, the band, the sell-out – everything about it was first class.” – Coach Becky Burleigh
“FSU is a very good team. In the first half, they pinned us in and in the second half, we solved it a bit. It is a heart-breaking loss. It is a game we expected to win so the result is disappointing. We fought to the very end. We showed a lot of resilience – we didn’t put our head down when we gave up a goal. We kept fighting. It [the win] was right there. We just need to find a way to grasp it.” – Coach Becky Burleigh
Thoughts on Sunday’s first home game:
“It is going to come hard and fast. I don’t believe they play tonight so that will be a bit of an advantage for them. But we are a grinding team and that’s just going to be part of our identity.” – Coach Becky Burleigh
“Come out and rep. The younger players haven’t had a home game yet so this is an opportunity for them to see what a home game atmosphere is like and what the Gator Nation brings.” – Senior, Tess Sapone
Friday evening’s game was nothing but a classic between two rival schools and the Seminoles made sure the “12th player” was present. The atmosphere at the Seminole Soccer Complex was electric. The FSU Marching Chiefs created a state of euphoria amongst the large crowd.
FSU’s band playing THAT tune. pic.twitter.com/QGp0bvgTNy
— Joseph Erickson (@JEricksonReport) September 6, 2019
The second half drama added to the setting making it a prime example of what fans want in a soccer match. A great atmosphere, quality football and plot twists.
Gators’ First Home Game
Don’t miss out the Gators’ first home game of the season against UCF on Sunday at 6 p.m. The game will be played in the Donald R. Dizney Stadium.