The University of Florida soccer team improved its record to 2-3 on the year after defeating the University of South Florida 2-1 in Florida’s season home opener.
The Bulls controlled the first half, maintaining a majority of the possession and out shooting the Gators 8-4. However, Florida played lockdown defense, keeping the game even after 45 minutes.
The Bulls starting lineup came out strong, asserting their dominance in the opening 10 minutes of the game. It was not until 13 minutes in, the Gators got a shot on goal, rivaling the Bulls’ four.
As time ticked down to the final minutes of the half, the Gators gained momentum. Florida managed to rally off three more shots, showing off their pace and skill. Most notably, UF junior midfielder Julianne Leskauskas had a shot in the final minute that missed the net by inches.
In the second half, the Gators came out with intensity. They had a handful of chances in the opening minutes, putting pressure on the Bulls.
Then, in the 61st minute, Leskauskas lofted the ball over USF’s goalie to put the Gators ahead. However, Florida’s lead did not last long. USF midfielder Chiara Hahn evened the score, putting the ball over a diving Alexa Goldberg.
Then, in the 82nd minute, senior midfielder Syd Kennedy put one in the back of the net, securing the win for the Gators.
Kennedy said this goal, assisted by Leskauskas, felt amazing.
With this result, the Gators walk away from their home opener with a win. Gator coach Samantha Bohon said the home crowd was a huge energy boost and played a role in their success.
Leskauskas said this win was huge for the team, and they will look to carry this momentum with them on the road.
The Gators will return to Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Sunday to take on #10 Florida State at 5pm; the Seminoles are the defending national champions.