The No. 8 Gamecocks (12-1-3) could not have picked a more humid afternoon to visit Gainesville.
The Gators (10-6-1) were unable to beat the visitors, playing to a 1-1 double overtime draw on Sunday in their final home game of the regular season.
Florida came into Sunday’s match trying to rebound from a tough 1-0 loss at Tennessee on Thursday. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, had not lost since SEC play began just over a month ago.
Over 700 fans piled into Donald R. Dizney stadium on Sunday to help the Gators celebrate senior day, but they were left wanting after the first half.
Both teams struggled to carve out solid attacking chances, and the game was scoreless heading into halftime. The Gators registered five shots compared to South Carolina’s two. In a matchup of SEC heavyweights, junior Florida forward Deanne Rose felt like the teams were not playing up to par:
Rose, who was subbed on at the start of the second half, brought needed energy to Florida’s forwards. She and freshman Kouri Peace each generated some chances when play resumed.
The Gators did not break through until the 70th minute, though, when center back Julia Lester won the ball back in midfield. She looked up and fed Rose who slid the ball past an oncoming keeper to put Florida up 1-0. It was fitting that Lester, a senior, registered her first point for the Gators since 2017 on senior day:
The Gamecocks proved they came to fight just 13 minutes later, though, when they equalized against the run of play. Sophomore forward Riley Tanner was on the end of a ball over the top and fired a shot from the left side of the box past Susi Espinoza.
Rose had a close-range effort saved in the 85th minute, but neither team could find a winner in regulation. South Carolina would head to overtime for the third time in their last four games.
Each team registered three shots after regulation, but none would find their way to the back of the net. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, the first draw of the season for the Gators.
According to Florida head coach Becky Burleigh, the result might as well have been a loss for the team emotionally:
The Gators next game is Thursday at Georgia (7-6-1).
Florida is 6-2-1 in SEC play with only the Georgia game left until the conference tournament. The Gators have the second most points in the SEC East, trailing only South Carolina.