On an emotional Thursday night in Gainesville, the Florida Gator soccer (4-7-2) team gets a 3-1 win over Georgia Southern (4-11-1).
This was the last home match for head coach Becky Burleigh and associate head coaches Vic Campbell and Alan Kirkup as Burleigh announced her retirement earlier this year.
After two consecutive matches of shutouts and defensive battles, the Gators were finally able to showcase their offense against the Eagles. Florida had 37 shot attempts tonight, 19 of those on goal!
Give credit to Sallie Newton, the Georgia Southern goalkeeper. She had 16 saves and only allowed three goals.
Maybe for the fans and team perspective it was nice to not have the defense play with their backs against the wall again. But for Burleigh, she thought the team “probably should have finished a lot more opportunities than we did.”
This goal was extra special. One, because the Gators had not scored in two matches. And two because it was a tribute to associate head coach Alan Kirkup. He wrote this play up with a small group and “they ran it to perfection” as Burleigh said. That group was Laney Steed, Parker Roberts and the goal scorer, Madison Alexander. You can even see Alexander look right over at the bench to acknowledge that the play was successful.
The next came about 15 minutes after the first. Tori Grambo rips a big shot from outside the box.
Grambo played exceptionally well in this game; she had six shots on the night and could have had more goals the way she was shooting. Grambo would also assist the third goal of the night.
Although Florida controlled the match, this goal was essentially the dagger. Georgia Southern had scored in the 87th minute to make it a 2-1 match. If there was any sort of comeback brewing by the Eagles, Parker Roberts shut that door quickly. This long ball shot was assisted by Tori Grambo and Deanne Rose.
One Last Time
And of course, none of this would be possible without the person who started it all. Becky Burleigh gave a speech following the game, thanking everyone for her experiences and memories here at UF. She said she came into this match not thinking much of it being her last. But once she walked into the stadium and saw the signs, the old familiar faces and the tributes, it became special.
Becky, Vic and Alan certainly represented the University of Florida well, upholding the Gator standard.
The Gators hit the road for the first time this spring season where they face LSU on Sunday at 1 pm. This is Florida’s first two-game weekend in over a year and it was part of the reason they split minutes and played almost the entire squad against Georgia Southern.