UF’s Madeline Pirello (#19) bests Missouri’s offense during their match at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. Missouri defeated UF 2-3. (Sydney Johnson/WRUF)

Florida Soccer Falls 1-0 to Mississippi State In SEC East Vs West Matchup

The Florida Gator soccer team lost at home on Thursday night to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 1-0. The Gators moved to 5-4-3 on the year in what was their third loss in conference play. The Bulldogs moved to 7-3-3 on the season, earning their second win in SEC play. This was a defensive match up that saw neither team shoot over six shots. Both teams were limited to one shot on goal for the night. This is just the third time the Gators have lost to the Bulldogs in a series Florida has dominated with 16 wins.

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The Breakdown

In what was a defensive game, the Bulldogs started out fast. Mississippi State used their elite ball movement to break past the Gator back line for multiple chances early on. The Gators played a great defensive game overall but struggled to find a rhythm on offense. At the 18:49 mark of the first half, Aitana Martinez-Montoya opened the scoring in what was the only goal of the game off an assist by Ilana Izquierdo. Izquierdo delivered a through pass from the top of the box, allowing Martinez-Montoya to score. With that goal, Martinez-Montoya became the Bulldogs’ season leader with four goals on the year. The Bulldog defense shined the most in this one, limiting Florida to one shot in the first half, and three for the game.

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In the second half, the Gators stepped it up, utilizing their deep bench to their advantage. Njeri Butts, in particular, made an impact, using her long strides to dribble past the smaller Bulldog defenders. The Gators were able to put in two more shots in the second half for a total of three for the game with one shot on target. That number is well below their season average of 11.4 shots per game. Although the Gators adjusted well to Mississippi State’s game plan in the second half, they were unable to put the ball in the back of the net, losing 1-0.

“You’ve got to give them a little bit of credit because they had a good game plan but I actually thought we countered pretty well to it, especially in the second half. So it’s just disappointing because I felt we adjusted well, we just didn’t play to our strengths as much as we needed to in the second half. I think we could have executed a little bit cleaner in the second half.” – Florida Head Coach Samantha Bohon

What’s Next

The Gators have another SEC match up this Sunday on the road against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are currently first in the SEC East with a perfect 2-0-0 record in divisional play. Georgia is 6-3-3 on the season and is 4-1-2 at home. Last time these two teams met, Georgia won 3-0 back in September of 2022 on the road.

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