Special to Gatorsports.com
BOCA RATON — The Gators needed extended minutes to claim its season opener Friday. Junior Deanne Rose hit the golden winner in the 96th minute to give the Gators a 3-2 overtime win over Florida Atlantic.
Florida Atlantic scored the only goal of the opening half in the 18th minute. The Owls used four passes to bring the ball from midway in their defensive half to find Pernille Velta. She received the ball at the top of the Gator defensive third and drove toward goal to score on a 15-yard right-footed shot.
Florida’s Deanne Rose tied the match in the 55th minute off the pass from Kit Loferski. Rose moved past an Owl defender to score from 12 yards.
The rain returned in the second half and the teams played in a heavy shower for the first 10 minutes. Then sophomore Cassidy Lindley’s 35-yard right footed strike put the Gators ahead in the 74th minute.
A header in the 88th minute by FAU’s Mary O’Hara sent the match to overtime. It was the third overtime in the all-time eight match series, with all the OT matches coming in Boca Raton. Halfway through the first overtime, Rose put in the cross from Lindley to give the Gators the overtime win.
“It was definitely worth the wait,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “Have to give credit to FAU. They came out and played hard. They got the equalizer late in the match after we had gone ahead.
“But also give credit to us for showing the character to come back and win in overtime. Certainly not the prettiest match for us, but a good starting point for us to get the season started with a win.”
Florida begins a four-match road stretch against teams among the United Soccer Coaches’ preseason top-25 this Sunday at No. 18 South Florida. Match time is 6 p.m. at the Corbett Soccer Stadium.