Following an uncharacteristically sloppy first half, the No. 6 Florida soccer team needed a spark to kickstart a stagnant offense.
UF would need just a lone corner, however, to propel the team to a scoring display and a second SEC win in the process.
Deanne Rose’s header in the 50th minute put Florida in front for good, as the Gators went on to secure an eventual 3-0 win Sunday over Alabama at James G. Pressly Stadium.
“Especially in the first 25 minutes, we just stood off them too far and let them do what they wanted. And they looked pretty good,” Gators coach Becky Burleigh said. “As soon as we put them under pressure, all of a sudden they didn’t look as good. And I think a big part of that was our pressure. We’re capable of doing that to anyone, and I think we just forgot.”
After suffering a 2-1 loss Thursday at Texas A&M, the Gators (8-2-0, 2-1-0 SEC) once again struggled to create shots despite controlling the majority of possession in the midfield in the first half. With many passes in the final third finding the feet of the Crimson Tide (8-3-1, 0-2-1), UF entered the break with just three shots to Alabama’s five despite a noticeable difference in possession. But the Gators appeared to come out with renewed energy in the second half, needing just five minutes to create the decisive attacking opportunity that Rose positioned perfectly inside the box.
Rather than sit on their laurels and defend, Florida would need just two minutes before adding to the lead as midfielder Mayra Pelayo’s shot inside the box deflected off of the feet of the Alabama defense and rolled into the Crimson Tide’s open net.
“I just tried to get up as high as I could,” Rose said of her go-ahead goal. “I think it just shows the grit and resilience from this team, and how we can come back and score two goals in 10 minutes.”
Rose capped the second-half scoring barrage with a breakaway finish in the 76th minute, giving her a team-leading six goals on the season.
Gators junior goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese, making just her fourth start of the season after a thumb injury kept her out of action for UF’s first six matches, saved five shots en route to her second clean sheet.
With the victory, the Gators improved their record at home to 5-0. Florida will return to action Sunday for a road matchup with Georgia at 6 p.m.
“We needed a bounce-back game for sure. That was really important,” Burleigh said. “I think it showed some resilience from our team.”