UF soccer gets win vs. Dawgs

Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.

With their two senior All-Americans — Erika Tymrak and Kathryn Williamson — watching from the sideline with injuries, the rest of the Florida Gators collectively stepped up Sunday.

Senior midfielder Holly King’s header off a corner kick in the 55th minute broke a scoreless tie and ignited a four-goal explosion by the Gators in a span of 24 minutes as UF won its third match in a row by defeating SEC rival Georgia 4-1 Sunday before a Pressly Stadium crowd of 687.

The win completed a weekend sweep for the Gators (6-3-1, 3-1), who defeated No. 23 Tennessee, 2-1, in their league home opener Friday.

The Bulldogs fell to 5-5-1, 1-2-1 with the loss.

“It’s a really big win for us,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “The difference is Friday night, we were at 2-0 and we were sort of doing the same thing, but we let them back in it. Tonight, it was 2-0 and we just kept pouring it on. I think that’s important to see.”

Tymrak, UF’s offensive leader, sustained a sprained left ankle late in the first half of the game against the Vols that put her on the sideline for Sunday’s match where she joined Williamson, UF’s defensive leader who missed her fifth straight game recovering from a torn meniscus in her right knee, as cheerleaders.

Their teammates gave them plenty to cheer about.

It started with King’s goal, which was preceded by a well-placed corner kick from sophomore Annie Speese. It was her third goal of the season, all of them coming on headers.

“Something that I work on a lot at practice with Jo (Dragotta) and Annie Speese is hitting my spot,” King said. “Heading is one of my strengths, so it’s good to finally use that this year. I haven’t been using it in the past.”

Ten minutes later, sophomore Havana Solaun made it 2-0 after Georgia was unable to clear a UF shot. The rebound was corralled by Florida’s Maggie Rodgers who alertly played the ball to Solaun at the top of the box, and the former Buchholz star sent a low, rolling shot through traffic and into the net.

It was also Solaun’s third goal of the season, but gives her the team lead in points with nine.

“The forwards were working really hard to keep it in front of the goal,” Solaun said, “Maggie got the ball and I said ‘Set, set’ and she turned around and just laid it off. I just tried to keep it low and put it to the back corner.”

Dragotta, another of UF’s five seniors, scored her first goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 69th minute following an inadvertent handball on the Bulldogs to make it 3-0, and sophomore forward Jillian Graff capped the season-high Florida scoring effort with her second goal of the season from close range 10 minutes later, with a nice assist from freshman Brooke Smith.

Georgia, which was outshot 17-4 by the Gators, was able to avoid the shutout when the Bulldogs’ Tori Cooper converted an open 12-yard shot in the 86th minute after a late UF turnover.

With the six points (three per win) they earned this weekend, the Gators moved into a tie for second in the SEC East with Kentucky, each with nine points.

League newcomers Missouri (9-1, 4-0), which is ranked No. 16, and Texas A&M (10-1, 4-0), ranked No. 10, lead the East and West Divisions, respectively, with 12 points apiece.

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