Coaching staff's final home soccer match a win for Gators

Special to
Florida soccer players leave a message on the 34th Street Wall for retiring coach Becky Burleigh.

With the coaching staff appearing in their final home match Thursday, the Florida soccer team made sure their final Dizney Stadium appearance was a positive one with a 3-1 win over Georgia Southern.

Florida head coach Becky Burleigh announced in January she would retire at the end of 2020-21 season. Burleigh and Associated head coach Vic Campbell have been with Florida for each of its 26-season history and Associated head coach Alan Kirkup joined the staff for the 2006 campaign. Thursday's win gave the program a home record of 230-44-16 (.821).

Past players were among the Dizney Stadium crowd to cheer the Gators. Also among the crowd were those who worked with Burleigh at the University Athletic Association, including former athletic director Jeremy Foley and Steve Spurrier. The three coaches were honored pre-match and Burleigh spoke to the fans following the win. She was touched by the flowers placed where her parents cheered the Gators for many years before they passed away before the 2017 season.

Senior Madison Alexander opened the scoring in the 17th minute. The play started with a free kick above the middle of the box. Parker Roberts' kick found Laney Steed just in front of the Eagles' wall. Steed sent the ball directly to her left for Alexander. Her right-footed shot scored from 12 yards.

The second goal started when Deanne Rose sent the ball to freshman Tori Grambo at the top of the Eagles defensive third. Grambo moved toward the middle and her 20-yard right-footed shot scored just inside the far post.

The Eagles (4-11-1) cut the lead to a single goal with Debra Ruiz's goal in the 87th minute.

A late goal off a 25-yard strike by Roberts finished the scoring for Florida. 

Florida (4-7-2, 1-6-1 SEC) continues spring season play at 1 p.m. Sunday against LSU in Orange Beach, Ala.

Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh saw her team defeat Georgia Southern on Thursday, the final home match of her career with the Gators.