By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
After losing back-to-back soccer matches against No. 3 Duke and No. 6 North Carolina last weekend, defending Big Ten champion Ohio State finally put it all together Friday in posting a 1-0 win over No. 5 Florida before a Donald R. Dizney Stadium crowd of 972.
The Buckeyes’ Kayla Fischer scored from 6 yards out at the 55:12 mark of the second half and Ohio State goalkeeper Devon Kerr made it stand up with four crucial saves, as the Buckeyes (1-2) got their first win of the season while handing the the Gators (2-1) their first loss.
“It was a really hard-fought battle between two teams,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “The first part of the first half, we played well, then the second part of the first half, they played well. We had lots of opportunities on our end, but were not clinical enough to finish.
“One game isn’t going to define us. We’ve just got to learn and move on.”
The two teams played to a scoreless first half, with each getting five shots in the opening period. The Gators actually outshot the Buckeyes 8-4 after intermission, taking a 13-9 edge in shots for the match.
But thanks to Fischer’s unassisted goal, Ohio State escaped with the win. Defender Parker Roberts said it was just one of those nights for the Gators.
“It’s never easy to lose,” Roberts said. ‘It’s kind of like ‘What’s next?’ Obviously that was a tough game and they were the better team tonight. You hope to play your best every time, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. We just have to learn from that.”
UF had numerous chances, but just could not get the ball into the net. Defender Rachelle Smith left it all on the field, playing the full 90 minutes but coming up empty.
“They’re a good team obviously. We always have an issue with them every year,” Smith said. “We hoped our passing would be a lot better, but now we know what to fix. Hopefully we can just win the next game and go on from there.”
Next up, the Gators face their first road match of the season when they travel to Oklahoma State for a match Sunday starting at 1:30 p.m.
“All credit to Ohio State,” midfielder Sarah Troccoli said. “Every time we play them, it’s trouble. We both battled, and I think we kind of pulled it together in the second half, but we just couldn’t get that final pass and final finish. We just have to learn from this one and then move on to the next.”