UF soccer rallies for win over Missouri


Published: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 1:03 a.m.

The post-match fireworks that were supposed to follow Friday’s Southeastern Conference showdown between No. 12 Florida and No. 14 Missouri were delayed, but it didn’t seem to matter to the Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,779 on hand.

Facts

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Who: Mississippi State at Florida
When: Sunday at 2 p.m. (Senior Day)
TV: CST (Cox ch. 259)
Radio: WRUF

After all, Jo Dragotta had already supplied some fireworks of her own with her game-winning goal in the match’s 85th minute, propelling the Gators (11-3-1, 8-1) to a 2-1 win and their eighth straight victory, giving UF sole possession of the SEC lead.

Florida came from behind with first place on the line for the second straight match, having rallied from a 1-0 deficit last Sunday on the road to knock off then-No. 5 Texas A&M by the same score.

“I have to give credit to Missouri for coming in here and really putting their style of play on us,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “But I think in the second half, we were able to turn that around a little bit and that just made the biggest difference.”

Dragotta’s golden goal was the first of her career and third goal of the season. In her previous three years, the senior from Tampa had not scored a goal.

“It was real exciting,” said Dragotta, who was taken down hard moments earlier by a Missouri defender.

“Honestly, when the ball came to me, I just wanted to hit it as hard as I could because I was just a little frustrated.”

The match was a tale of two halves, with Missouri (12-3, 7-2) owning the first, outshooting UF 8-1 and taking a 1-0 lead to the locker room on Taiwo Adeshigbin’s goal in the 25th minute.

“Halftime was a good breather,” Dragotta said. “Becky made us literally all take a deep breath all at once and just kind of relax, calm down and play like we can play.”

The results speak for themselves.

The Gators outshot the Tigers 12-2 after intermission, getting the equalizer just 7:30 into the second half on a goal by sophomore Annie Speese, her third goal of the season, following a short pass from senior All-America Erika Tymrak.

The assist was the 33rd of Tymrak’s career, moving her into fourth place all-time at UF.

Both teams had chances to take the lead, but none materialized until Dragotta’s dramatic game-winner, which was made even more special because her maternal grandmother, who had never seen her play, was in the stands.

The goal came off a corner kick, with junior Adriana Leon, who got the assist, sending a sharp pass along the ground to Dragotta, who was closing from the left side and drove the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards out.

“The credit goes to our (assistant) coach, Alan Kirkup,” Dragotta said. “He thought up that play and execution is what we’ve been harping on. It was a perfect ball from Dri, and I all I had to do was hit it.”

The Gators will close out their regular-season home schedule Sunday when they host Mississippi State at 2 p.m. for Senior Day.

“This is a huge win,” Speese said. “It puts us first in the league and gives us a lot of confidence going forward.”

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