Special to Gatorsports.com
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — A goal less than a minute into overtime gave Arkansas a 1-0 win over Florida in a Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal match Friday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
The loss ends Florida’s season. The Gators (7-10-4) came into the event knowing they needed to win the SEC Tournament to claim the league’s automatic NCAA berth. Only teams with records of .500 or better are considered for the NCAA Championships’ 33 at-large berths. Florida advanced to NCAA Tournament play in each of the 15 previous seasons and 22 times in the program’s 24-year history.
Arkansas (13-4-3) moves ahead to its third consecutive SEC Tournament final to face the LSU at 2 p.m. Sunday. LSU eliminated South Carolina in the other semifinal Friday, 1-0.
Arkansas’ game winning goal started when Marissa Kinsey crossed the ball across the face of the goal. Kayla McKeon’s header to the far post scored at 90:44 to end the match. Arkansas outshot the Gators 11-4 Friday.
It was Florida’s sixth overtime match of the season and its second of its three SEC Tournament matches. Florida tied Auburn 1-1 2OT in Sunday’s first round, advancing to the quarterfinal with a 2-1 penalty kicks advantage.
Florida played without senior Sarah Troccoli due to a two-match suspension. She received a red card in the second half of Sunday’s match versus Auburn.
“Credit Arkansas. They put a lot of pressure on us in the second half, which didn’t really allow us to play our game,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “Finally the pressure gave in and they scored the go-ahead goal.
” Right before overtime, we decided to go to 3-5-2 and just go for it and not absorb the pressure. Unfortunately, we didn’t get an opportunity to demonstrate that since it ended so quickly in the overtime.”