Florida soccer blanks Wildcats, 3-0
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 1:38 a.m.
The Florida Gators enter every SEC weekend hoping to pick up six points (two wins), but this weekend there is a definite sense of urgency.
LSU at Florida, 1 p.m., Sun Sports
Sitting in a fifth-place tie with 12 points and only five matches left entering Friday's home date with No. 23 Kentucky, the eighth-ranked and pink-clad Gators (11-3-1, 5-2) picked up three big points with a dominating 3-0 win over the Wildcats (11-3-1, 5-2) before a Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,235 on Kicking for the Cure night in support of breast cancer awareness.
“I think it was one of our more complete games of the season so far,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “Our tactics of our outside backs getting forward really put a damper on their offense, and we sort of got to dictate what we wanted to do at that point. It was a good team effort.”
Sophomore Lauren Smith had a pair of goals — one in each half and both off assists from junior Havana Solaun — and freshman Liz Slattery added the other as Florida won its third straight while ending a four-match winning streak for the Wildcats, one of three teams tied for second place in the SEC (15 points) entering the weekend.
It was the first multi-goal game of Smith's career, with the goals her second and third of the season.
“It's a great feeling,” Smith said. “I feel like the team did an awesome job in just setting me up great, and I'm glad I was able to execute when I needed to.”
Smith got UF on the board early, taking a well-placed cross from Solaun, who made a wide run down the right sideline before passing the ball to Smith, who converted from close range for a 1-0 lead just 6:53 into the match.
Sophomore Claire Falknor joined Solaun in recording an assist on the play by starting the sequence with a nice pass to the former Buchholz standout.
The score remained that way until the waning minutes of the half when junior Lauren Silver made a nice run down the left sideline and crossed the ball to Liz Slattery, and the freshman midfielder sent a scorching shot into the back of the net from 21 yards out with just 2:52 left before the break for her second goal of the season.
Smith made it 3-0 just 12 minutes into the second half, again taking a pass from Solaun, who just moments earlier narrowly missed scoring on a blast that ricocheted off the crossbar, and sending a shot into the upper right corner of the net from 20 yards out.
Florida finished with 13 shots, seven of them on-frame.
“We finished opportunities,” Solaun said. “In the past, we've been creating some good opportunities, but tonight we put them in the back of the net.”
The Wildcats, who came into the match second in the SEC in shots taken with an average of 20 per game, were held to just three shots, as junior goalkeeper Taylor Burke recorded her 20th career shutout, the third-best all-time mark at UF.
“It was huge,” Smith said of the win. “We are not usually behind in the SEC right now, and to come out with the team that's ranked second and really make a statement really says something about our team character.”
The Gators will try and finish off their first six-point SEC weekend when they host LSU at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Tigers (9-4-2, 5-1-1), who came into the weekend leading the league with 16 points, lost to No. 24 Ole Miss, 1-0, at home Friday night.