Florida soccer tied for first in SEC
Published: Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:28 a.m.
She did it again.
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at Georgia
Freshman forward Savannah Jordan scored a pair of second-half goals and the Florida defense did the rest as the No. 7 Gators extended their season-high winning streak to six straight games – all by shutout – with a 2-0 win Sunday over league-leading Texas A&M in a showdown of the SEC's top two teams.
A Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,441 turned out on a picture-perfect day and joined a national television (ESPNU) audience in watching UF (14-3-1, 8-2) move into a first-place tie with the Aggies (13-4-1, 8-2) while ending A&M's season-high, eight-game winning streak.
“We knew this was a big game, and I think we got up for it,” said Jordan, who now has an SEC-leading 18 goals on the season – the No. 3 all-time single-season mark for a UF freshman, just one behind Abby Wambach's 19 (1998) and five short of Andi Sellers' school-record mark of 23 (1997).
“I think we defended really well in the first half and held them off even though they had a lot of good chances. We talked about the changes we needed to make at halftime and came out really strong. I'm proud of the way we played.”
After the teams battled through a scoreless first half, Jordan put UF up with a goal in the 51st minute following an interception near midfield by freshman Meggie Dougherty Howard, who slid a perfect pass Jordan's way after making a nice run.
A&M goalkeeper Jordan Day was able to make a diving save of Jordan's initial left-footed attempt, but Jordan was able to win the race to the rebound and chipped the ball into the right corner of the net with her right foot from eight yards out.
Jordan made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute when she took a pass from sophomore defender Christen Westphal and connected from 14 yards out for her sixth multi-goal game of the season.
Westphal and fellow defender Tessa Andujar started the play with a double-team of an A&M attacker deep in UF territory. Westphal gained possession and started an immediate counter-attack, making a long run down the left side before feeding the pass to Jordan and recording her second career assist.
“It was an awesome double with me and Tessa,” Westphal said. “We happened to get the ball, and I just saw a bunch of free space and just went for it. It was really tiring, but it was awesome.”
The Aggies, who finished the game with a 15-12 edge in shots, had several chances to get on the board, but either misfired wide or saw the ball wind up in the hands of UF junior goalie Taylor Burke, who made five saves and recorded the 22nd shutout of her career to move into the No. 2 all-time UF spot behind Katie Fraine (27, 2006-10).
“Obviously I have to give credit to my defense; I couldn't do that without them,” Burke said. “They played really great today, and in the second half we were able to gain a little bit of rhythm and score two goals.”
The Aggies and Gators each have 24 points heading into their final regular-season games Thursday, with UF traveling to face Georgia while A&M hosts LSU.
No. 13 South Carolina (14-2-2, 7-2-1, 22 points) and No. 25 Kentucky (13-4-1, 7-3, 21 points) also are still mathematically alive, but with a win over the Bulldogs (12-5-1, 5-4-1), UF is assured of no worse than a tie for its league-leading 13th SEC title and the No. 1 seed for the SEC Tournament.
“We've got one game – we've got to do this,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We've got one more step to take, and that's going to be Thursday night against a very good Georgia team.”