By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
The Florida women’s soccer team faced Missouri in its Southeastern Conference home opener Thursday and came away with a hard-fought, 3-2 win at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
The Gators (6-4, 2-0 SEC) got a first-half goal from senior Vanessa Kara and added two more in the second half, one by junior Deanne Rose and the other by junior Parker Roberts (pictured), to post the narrow win.
The Tigers, who never led but cut a two-goal UF lead to one on two occasions in the second half, slipped to 6-3-1, 0-1-1.
“We’ve got to do a better job of managing the game,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “We left some goals out there that could have put the game away earlier. The bottom line is you’ve got to finish those because if you finish those, it changes things drastically.”
In their last meeting, Missouri took a 2-0 win in Columbia, Mo., on Oct. 21, 2018.
The Gators, who now lead the all-time series 9-2-2, felt fortunate to come out ahead Thursday.
“I think we learned a lesson tonight,” Rose said. “We came away with a ‘W’ but it was a little bit too close. There were some chances that we should have finished and then there were some chances that they got that they never should have gotten.”
Kara got the only goal of the first half when she scored at the 26:52 mark of the match after getting an assist from senior Sammie Betters.
The Gators went up 2-0 on an unassisted goal by Rose in the 52nd minute, but Missouri junior Macy Trujillo cut the lead in half with 25:18 left to play with an assist from teammate Sarah Luebbert.
The score remained the same for the next 10 minutes before UF’s Roberts made it 3-1 on a blast from the top of the box, but the Tigers again cut the margin to one on a penalty kick by Luebbert with 9:51 left to play.
There were several close calls in the closing minutes, but Florida hung tough to post its fourth consecutive victory of the season, with Roberts’ goal the game-winner.
“It was a good game for us,” Roberts said. “I think SEC games are different than non-conference, and this was the epitome of an SEC game. I think it was good for us, especially going into Vanderbilt on Sunday. It will give us a taste of what we’re going to see.”
Next up, Florida faces the defending SEC champion Commodores Sunday at 1 p.m. in Nashville.