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Florida wins 6-5 in OT over Kentucky at SEC Soccer Tournament

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida's soccer team celebrates the OT win Friday night over Kentucky in the SEC tourney in Alabama.

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — In an 11-goal match that saw four ties and five lead exchanges, it was the Florida Gators taking a 6-5 overtime win over Kentucky in the opening round Friday of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.

Sophomore Cassidy Lindley hit the winner in the 96th minute, giving Florida (2-6-1) the decisive sixth goal in the 600th match in the program's 26-year history.

"That was one of the most crazy games I've ever been a part of," UF coach Becky Burleigh said. "It was an emotional roller coaster, lots of resilience and perseverance shown. Thought we did a good job of halftime of not playing like we knew what the score was and just came out and really got after it. Huge shout out to our bench. They made a huge difference in our energy level the entire game."

The win ends a school-record six-match losing streak and moves Florida ahead to Sunday's SEC Tournament second round play to face Missouri on Sunday night. Florida played Kentucky (1-5-3) a week ago in Lexington, losing 3-1.

"It was frustrating when we were down 3-1 as some of it was our own doing. But we had hit the tipping point where we were tired of that narrative and we had nothing to lose at that point. They played their hearts out," Burleigh said. 

 Settle in for this scoring review. Eleven combined goals equals the most ever for the Florida program.

Florida's Parker Roberts scored the first in the 24th minute. A deep cross from Cassidy Lindley was attempted to be cleared by UK but Roberts one-touched it in from 14 yards.

The Wildcats scored the next three, with the first two coming within a minute. Emily Hahnel won the ball just above the Florida box. She sent it to Maria Olson at the top of the box who quickly sent it left for Jordyn Rhodes making a run down the left side of the box. Rhodes hit a 12-yard shot to the far corner at 25:32 for the first tie of the match.

Just 24 second later, Kentucky took its first lead when Úlfa Úlfarsdóttir hit a 25-yard shot at 25:56.

First half scoring closed in the 29th minute after Roberts hit a penalty kick when the Gators were whistled for a handball in the box.

Second half scoring started with a three-goal stretch by the Gators. Lindley took the throw-in from Nicole Vernis and then moved across the top of the box before hitting a 20-yard shot to the far post in 62nd minute for her first goal of 2020.

Another Gator, sophomore Laney Steed, scored her first goal of the season when she tied the match in the 68th minute. Lindley's corner kick pinged around the far post after a Roberts' header attempt before it came to Steed at the top of the box. Her left-footed strike hit the near post and kicked in to tie the match at 3-all.

Florida took its second lead of the match when sophomore Alivia Gonzalez was fouled, giving the Gators their first penalty kick of the season. Deanne Rose, making her first appearance in a match since Oct. 18, successfully converted the shot in the 76th minute.

The Wildcats scored twice in a two-minute span to take a late lead. Hannah Richardson tied the match with her 17-yard shot to the upper corner at 82:38. Then Rhodes earned her first collegiate hat-trick when she headed in Gretchen Mills' corner kick at 83:57.

The play that forced overtime started with Steed sending the ball wide for Rose. The deep cross Rose sent to the middle of the box was headed in by Roberts at 88:03 for her second goal of the match.

The golden goal started with Steed sending the ball to Rose as she moved down the right side of the box. The cross Rose sent from just before the end line was one-touched in by Lindley at the near post at 95:25 for her second goal of the night.

Sunday's match is set for 8:30 p.m. on the SEC Network and on AM-850/98.1-FM radio. Missouri defeated UF 5-2 on Nov. 8 to end regular-season play.