SEC soccer: Gators end slide with Senior Day shutout

Special to Gatorsports.com
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Florida soccer team put a stop to a five-match losing streak by using its most productive day of the season Sunday to defeat LSU 4-0 at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

The Gators (4-10-3, 3-5-1 SEC) also were able to take a step closer to gaining a spot in the SEC tournament this weekend. The Gators' four goals is a season high and most since their 5-1 win over College of Charleston on Feb. 20 in the extended 2020-21 season.

The three points gives Florida 10 for Southeastern Conference play. Florida entered the match in a three-way tie for 10th in the SEC. Any points will aid the Gators as they look to be among the 10 teams advancing to the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. Play begins on Halloween at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.

"We've been chipping away at it all year, and it's something that we've trained from the first training session till now," first-year UF coach Tony Amato said. "I think it's just taking some time to all come together. It wasn't like we waved a magic wand at halftime against Georgia and we started scoring goals. The hard work of the players in and around the box, day in and day out, just has paid off now in these two games. We have to keep doing that moving forward."

It seemed appropriate that a pair of seniors connected for UF's Senior Day opening goal at 14:01. Kit Loferski sent a lofted cross to the far post. LSU goalkeeper Mollee Swift couldn't collect it and the ball dropped right at the far post corner. Fifth-year senior Madison Alexander's touch tucked it over the line to just beat a Tiger defender and Swift.

For the second consecutive match, Florida scored three second-half goals. The 18-minute scoring span started with Loferski bringing the ball down the right side. She sent the ball to Alivia Gonzalez just above the box. Gonzalez took a touch to open up the angle and hit a 17-yard left-footed shot to the far post at 54:17 for her second goal of 2021.

A set play goal was next for Florida in the 62nd minute. Sophomore Sydney Urban's corner kick to the middle of the box was headed in by freshman Madison Young. It was Young's first collegiate goal.

After assists on the opening two goals, Loferski scored the afternoon's final goal off a penalty kick at 71:23. Junior Kouri Peace was fouled in the box, giving Florida its first penalty kick of the season.

The result over LSU (10-6, 3-6) was Florida's fifth shutout of the season.

"We talked at halftime about making sure that we really are solid from the back through the front, denying crosses, blocking shots and picking up runners in the box," Amato said. "Georgia [Eaton-Collins] took a knock and had to go out of the game for a bit and we didn't let up. Proud of everyone that went back there to hold it down until she could come back in the game. It was really a total team effort from our forwards through to Alexa [Goldberg] and Fran [Faraci] who came into the game, to keep the shutout."

Florida closes regular-season action Thursday with a home match vs. South Carolina. The Gamecocks (10-5-1, 5-3-1) were also 4-0 winners Sunday, defeating Alabama in Columbia, S.C.

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