Milestone win for UF soccer coach Burleigh

Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

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A 3-0 decision over Miami on Sunday gave Florida head coach Becky Burleigh her 500th career win, becoming the first woman in Division I soccer history to reach that milestone.

“It shows you’ve been around a long time,” Burleigh said. “Not to minimize all the contributions that players, staff, support staff have made in creating a program here that’s achieved at a high level for a long period.” 

Three different Gators (4-4) scored in an 18-minute second-half span to reach the win mark for their head coach.

After some close chances in the opening 45 minutes, Florida scored early in the second half. Parker Roberts headed the Sammie Betters’ corner kick to sophomore Cassidy Lindley, located just above the 18-yard box. Lindley’s right-footed strike scored in the far post upper slot in the 50th minute.

Vanessa Kara scored her third goal of the last two matches in the 62nd minute when she touched in the deep cross from Kit Loferski.

Sammie Betters’ scored her first goal of the season in the 68th minute. Roberts’ pass caught Betters making a run down the right side. Her 12-yard angled shot just beat the goalkeeper at the near post.

“I liked their response in the second half,” Burleigh said. “In the first half, thought we played at a tempo that was too slow to break them down. They (Miami) were really disciplined in a low-block defense. We talked at halftime about how we need to dictate and to find ways to break the block they had at midfield. Once we did that, it opened up a lot of things for us.”

Miami dropped to 3-2-1.

Southeastern Conference play begins Thursday with the Gators traveling to Baton Rouge, La., to face 2018 SEC Tournament champion LSU. The match begins at 8 p.m. ET at the LSU Soccer Stadium and admission is free.

In 25 seasons at the helm of the UF soccer team, Burleigh, 51, has led UF to a NCAA Championship, two NCAA College Cup appearances, 14 Southeastern Conference titles and 21 NCAA Championships berths. Along the way, Burleigh picked up National (1998) and SEC Coach of the Year (2012, ‘10, ‘08, ‘00 & ’96) honors. Her overall record in 30 years of coaching (5 years at Berry (Ga.) College is 500-147-42.