The Miami Hurricanes traveled to Gainesville on the eve of coach Becky Burleigh’s potential 500th career win. She was not to be denied.
After a slow start, the Gators defeated Miami 3-0 to round out a three-game homestand and bring the team’s record to .500.
The Gators entered the game with a record of 3-4, while Miami sported a 3-1-1 record. Both teams were coming off the back of 4-0 victories.
The game saw few chances early. Miami’s plan was to defend deep and compactly, and the Gators struggled to break them down.
The first shot of the game was not registered until the 24th minute when Miami senior midfielder, Lauren Markwith booted the ball from the top of the box, only for it to sail off-target.
Florida’s main attacking threats were down the wings. Kit Loferski, who has started every game for the Gators so far, and Cassidy Lindley were often running down the flanks looking to cut in or cross.
Lindley generated the team’s most dangerous chance of the first half when she rounded the keeper and whipped in a low cross to substitute Laney Steed at the top of the six-yard box, but Steed’s shot was cleared off the line.
Despite Florida holding a four to two shot advantage in the first half, both teams entered the break scoreless. Burleigh had this to say about her team’s halftime adjustments:
The Gators were a team on a mission in the second half. Just five minutes after play resumed, they took the lead. Midfielder Parker Roberts’ header from a corner kick fell to the feet of Lindley at the top of the box, who released a stinging effort that sailed past the outstretched Miami keeper and into the right side of the net.
The Gators then began controlling the game. After some dangerous chances, Florida found the back of the net again in the 62nd minute. Loferski beat her defender on the right side of the box before she found a waiting Vanessa Kara in the box who doubled the Gators’ lead. Kara’s goal marks her third strike in the last two games.
Florida buried the Canes for good in the 68th. Senior Sammie Betters cut in from the right side of the box and delivered a ball that bounced off the Miami keeper to put the Gators up 3-0.
The Hurricanes had a last-gasp attempt at getting on the scoresheet when midfielder Kristina Fisher curled a shot from the top of the box in the 89th minute. But, it sailed just over the crossbar.
The Gators’ strong second half allowed them to end the game with a 14 to 7 shot advantage over their south Florida opponents. Betters noted the reason for the team’s improved performance after the break was increased intensity:
What’s Next for the Gators
Florida now holds a 4-4 record and will begin SEC play in their next game. They have scored seven and conceded zero in their last two games.
The team travels to face LSU (2-4-1) on Thursday. Historically, the Gators have dominated this matchup and have won their last six against the Tigers.
The status of Gator forward Deanne Rose is worth monitoring before the LSU game. Rose began the year red hot. She was named the first SEC Offensive Player of the Week before she injured her hamstring on the team’s California road trip. She has since missed four of the last five games.