Elite status: UF advances to NCAA soccer quarterfinals

Florida's Deanne Rose (21) gets the ball past Washington State goalie Ella Dederick in double overtime Sunday to score the golden goal in the NCAA Round of 16 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Sunday. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

After a scoreless regulation and an initial overtime period, Florida forward Deanne Rose wasn’t about to let another chance go to waste.

Rose darted into the box and placed the ball right past the Washington State goalkeeper, breaking the deadlock and securing the victory in double overtime in the process.

Rose’s goal in the 104th minute broke a scoreless match and gave Florida a 1-0 win over the Cougars on Sunday afternoon at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. The Gators, the region’s third seed, advance to the NCAA Soccer Tournament quarterfinals against No. 1 regional seed South Carolina (18-2-1) at 6 p.m. Friday in Columbia, S.C.

“We knew it was going to be quite the battle, and it was. I think a lot of credit goes to Washington State, because they were putting some pressure on us and I thought our overall team defense and our backline and goalkeeper especially really played a great game,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said.

Florida appeared to struggle with the intensity of the Cougars (11-8-3) from the opening kick, and UF failed to generate more than a lone shot in the opening 45 minutes of action. But after the interim period, the Gators (17-6) came out in the second half having found the sense of urgency, applying pressure to Washington State’s backline.

“Really a tale of two halves. In the first half, we weren’t being ourselves,” Burleigh said. “And in the second half, I think thanks to some leadership on the field, we were able to start to play our game. And once we started doing that, at that point I just really felt after halftime that was our game.”

But despite the best efforts of Florida’s attack, the Cougars held strong until time expired to force the first extra period. With UF pressing out of the break, Rose had an opportunity to put the game away in the first 10-minute overtime, but her shot from inside the box sailed over the crossbar. Fortunately for Rose and the Gators, the freshman would have a shot at redemption. This time, the Cougars wouldn’t be so lucky.

“Definitely when I missed that shot, I was upset and I was frustrated because I was getting chances and wasn’t finishing them,” Rose said. “But just the encouragement of Becky and my teammates just kept me going and I was able to finish it.”

Florida had yet to have a match go to double overtime this season, while the extra periods were familiar to the Cougars. Entering the contest, Washington State had seen six games this season decided in the second 10-minute overtime period.

“I would like to score before overtime,” Burleigh joked, “But I don’t know how to describe it. I knew we were going to score. I knew it wasn’t going to penalties, I knew we were going to score. And I knew it was going to just take patience on our part.”

The Gators will travel to Columbia to face South Carolina either Friday or Saturday in the NCAA quarterfinals, setting up a rematch of the season finale for both programs. The Gamecocks came away with a 1-0 win over Florida on Oct. 26 in the only previous match-up this season between the SEC powers.

“It’s absolutely perfect. It’s exactly what we want,” Burleigh said. “This team, we continue to grow in different ways. And it really is amazing to watch, because I think a lot of teams try to maybe pick at the beginning of the postseason. But this team has continued to grow throughout the postseason, and that to me is the most exciting part of it. So I don’t think we’re done yet.”