By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
No. 7 Florida spotted visiting Washington a 1-0 halftime lead before answering with a pair of second-half goals Friday to post an exciting 2-1 victory over the Huskies before an appreciative crowd of 721 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
“I think it was definitely a big show of resilience,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “Giving up that goal was difficult because we knew that they would just sit in after that, and that’s kind of what happened to us last year when we were out in Washington (a 1-0 loss). So to be able to come back and score two in the second half was big for us, especially for us to be able to do that against a team that we couldn’t do it against last year.”
The Huskies (0-1) took the lead in the 35th minute on a goal from 8 yards out by Ruby Hellstrom, with an assist from Lisa Jensen.
But the determined Gators (1-0) bounced back after intermission, tying the match at 1-all on a 7-yard shot by Sammie Betters in the 53rd minute with assists from Sarah Troccoli and Cassidy Lindley before taking the lead for good in the 76th minute on an unassisted goal from Madison Alexander.
Florida finished with a 15-11 edge in shots.
“For the first game of the season, this was a really good show of what we have as far as grit goes,” Betters said. “So yeah, it might not have gone our way in the beginning. We might not have done the things that we wanted to do, but at the end of the day it’s really cool that even this early in the season, we proved that we could come back from something like that.
“I’m really proud of us. We did a really good job.”
With the clock ticking under 14 minutes remaining and the score still tied, Alexander hit her game-winner.
“I was just pressing late in the game,” she said. “Everyone was a little fatigued, and their goalie and their center back kind of had a little mix-up. The ball came out and I saw an opening and just spotted it in.”
Washington goalie Siena Ruelas was credited with seven saves while UF keeper Kaylan Marckese finished with four.
Next up, the Gators return to Dizney Stadium, now their permanent home, to face FAU at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Florida then concludes its season-opening, three-match homestand by hosting Ohio State on Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. before traveling to face Oklahoma State Sunday, Aug. 26, in UF’s first road match of the season.