Jordan lifts UF soccer in opener
Published: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 12:16 a.m.
Freshman forward Savannah Jordan’s two unassisted goals in the last 10 minutes of play were the difference as No. 9 Florida opened its soccer season with a 3-1 win over Florida Gulf Coast before a Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,472 Friday night.
After just missing out on several scoring chances early in the match, Jordan’s patience paid off in the 81st minute when she took control of a ball in the box, turned and fired a rocket from eight yards out past FGCU goalkeeper Brittany Brown to break a 1-all tie.
She added some insurance a little more than five minutes later when she put in a rebound from point-blank range to close out the scoring.
“In the first half, I was a little nervous, and I think I had a lot of opportunities I could have finished,” Jordan said. “But once I started relaxing in the second half, I calmed down a little bit.
“It was exciting, especially the first one because it put us in the lead. The second one was just icing on the cake, I guess.”
Coach Becky Burleigh was impressed with Jordan’s opening night performance.
“I think it’s really big because she (Jordan) was really frustrated in the first half,” she said. “She probably should have had a hat trick in the first 10 minutes. When she came off, she said, ‘I’m going to finish some in the second half,’ and I just told her, ‘Look, you’re getting into great position to score. It’s going to come. Just be patient.’ And it did.”
After dominating the action from the outset, the Gators finally broke a scoreless tie when junior midfielder Havana Solaun was able to get her foot on a bouncing ball from about 12 yards out in the 35th minute and sent it into the back of the net for UF’s first goal of the season and the 14th of her career.
Freshmen Brooke Sharp and Pamela Begič had assists on the score.
It appeared that lead would hold up until halftime, but the Eagles, who had not scored in all three previous losses to Florida, ended that drought with just a little more than a minute left in the half.
Melissa Arnold sent a low line drive into the box on the Eagles’ first corner kick of the match, and Florida’s players failed to react, allowing FGCU’s Ally Kasun an open header that she cleanly converted to tie the score.
It was the Eagles’ only shot of the night, as UF finished with a 19-1 advantage.
“The thing that’s so disappointing about that is we had spent so much time on set pieces and being a lot more organized, but we’ve got to attack the ball,” Burleigh said. “We can be as organized as we want, but if we don’t attack the ball, they’re going to have a free header like they did.
“But if you take that away, they really had very little attack, and I think that bodes well for our defense.”
UF regained control of the match coming out of intermission and kept forcing the issue, with Solaun constantly using her exceptional ball-handling ability to keep pressure on the Eagles’ defense.
“I kept hearing their coach say ‘Who’s got 19? (Solaun’s number), who’s got 19?’” Burleigh said. “You know you’re doing a good job when the other coach is really worried about you.”
Former Ocala Trinity Catholic standout Tabitha Tindell, the 2012 Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Soccer who led the Celtics to the state Class 2A title last season, started at forward for FGCU and was cheered on by a large contingent of family and friends.
UF will try to improve to 2-0 on the season when the Gators host Oregon State at 7 p.m. Sunday.