Defender Madison Young (21) passes the ball on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The Gators were defeated by Missouri State University 0-1. (Sydney Johnson/WRUF)

Florida Soccer Ends Season With Draw Against No. 13 South Carolina

Florida’s soccer season ended Thursday in a 0-0 draw against the No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks on senior night at the Diz.

The Gators (6-5-6, 2-4-4 SEC) tried to cement their position in the Southeastern Conference tournament with a win, but their strong performance held the game to a draw. Despite eight shots, the Gators failed to score.

Florida needed losses by Tennessee and LSU on the final day of the regular season to gain a berth in the tournament field. Both the Vols and LSU gained points to stay ahead of  the Gators for the final two tournament spots. The top 10 league teams qualify for the SEC Tournament which starts Sunday in Pensacola.

“They knew what was on the line tonight,” UF coach Samantha Bohon said. “They came out really focused, and really clear on how we were trying to play. You had two teams trying to not lose.”

First Half

The Gamecocks’ junior midfielder Lily Render attempted the first shot from the far right wing in the opening two minutes, but it went over the goal.

A corner kick in the ninth minute provided Florida with an opportunity to score. Madison Young, a junior defender for Florida, attempted to score a header, but South Carolina’s defense deflected it away.

Throughout the first half, both teams traded possession of the ball. Catherine Barry, South Carolina’s senior forward, shot into Alexa Goldberg, Gators’ senior goalkeeper. Redshirt junior forward Maddy Rhodes had a second corner kick opportunity in the 35th minute, but Barry blocked her shot.

After a free kick was awarded to Florida, junior midfielder Lauren Donovan attempted a shot. In the bottom center of the goal, South Carolina goalkeeper Heather Hinz saved the shot. As the half came to an end, Florida’s Lena Bailey took control of the ball and sent a long-range shot from the far right wing. Gators were kept off the board by Hinz’s catch.

Florida kept the Gamecocks (11-1-6, 5-0-5) on their heels and outshot them four shots to three. The Gamecocks resisted the Gators’ pressure well, however, and kept the game scoreless at halftime.

Second Half

The Gators were fouled twice in just five minutes of the second half as both teams remained aggressive.

Megan Hinnenkamp was waiting for Bailey’s deep cross, just as she did against Vanderbilt last Sunday. After getting a touch on the ball, South Carolina’s goalkeeper was able to gather it in. Before Hinnenkamp could get the scoring touch on it, Hallie Meadows got a foot on it.

One-on-one play between South Carolina sophomore forward Shae O’Rourke and Florida senior defender Josie Curtis occurred in the 76th minute. Despite O’Rourke’s efforts, the shot went too high. South Carolina blocked the passing lanes well, but the Gators gave their best effort.

As time expired, the Gamecocks played a ball to Barry. She sent the ball to the far post, but the offside flag nullified the goal with two seconds remaining.

“We’re trying to push at the end to see if we could get the winner, because I know that we kind of needed some help to advance to the SEC Tournament,” Bohon said. “All we can ask our players is to empty their tank and to feel satisfied in terms of the effort. We’re just disappointed that we couldn’t put one in the back of the net.”

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