Gators advance to Sweet 16 with OT win


Florida's Brooke Sharp (11) controls the ball during a game against Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship.

(Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun)
Published: Friday, November 18, 2016 at 10:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 18, 2016 at 10:53 p.m.

Brooke Sharp's goal from 5 yards out with 3:46 remaining in the second overtime lifted No. 1 seed Florida to a pulsating 3-2 win over a tough Wisconsin squad Friday night before a crowd of 1,088 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jordan to Pelayo to Dougherty Howard to Sharp is now the latest UF combination to make a memory.

“It was just a great sequence,” said Sharp, whose game-winner was her second in the last three matches for UF.

“Savannah played it to Mayra, and then Mayra played it out to Meggie. When I saw Meggie out wide I knew it was going to be a good ball. I just screamed for it and placed it in.”

The Gators improved to 17-4-1 and will now face off against SEC rival and No. 4 seed Auburn at 2 p.m. Sunday with an NCAA Quarterfinal berth on the line.

After a scoreless first half, Florida took a 1-0 lead on Howard's penalty kick, only to watch the Badgers knot it up at 1-all on a penalty kick of their own, courtesy of Micaela Powers a little less than 13 minutes later.

Wisconsin (9-5-8) later took a 2-1 lead on a goal from Dani Rhodes, only to see UF tie it up again when a Badger player tipped in a UF corner kick.

That's the way it stayed until the 106:14 mark of the match, when Sharp came up with her game-winner.

“First of all, what I'd like to say is that as exhilarating as it is for us to win it in overtime, it's really difficult to lose that way,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “I thought Wisconsin was an opponent that we had to work really, really hard to get past, and I just want to give a special shout out to Rose Lavelle, their senior. She's one of the best collegiate players I've ever seen. She was definitely a handful for us to deal with, and that's as special of a player as you will see in college soccer.”

Wisconsin coach Paula Wilkins was gracious in defeat.

“Huge credit to Florida for what they did,” she said. “As a coach, it's always hard to see the end of your season and see your senior class move on. However, as I told them, I knew that they would throw it out there and make it a fight. I couldn't ask for any more from them.”

In the opener, 16th-ranked Auburn (16-6) scored a pair of goals just two minutes apart late in the first half to break a 1-all tie and went on to down No. 13 Connecticut (18-3), 4-1.

Not only will Sunday's match be an all-SEC battle, but the Tigers gave the Gators their only home loss of the year, 3-0, at Pressly Stadium back on Sept. 22.

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