SOCCER: No. 8 Florida falls to visiting No. 19 UT

All good streaks must come to an end. Like all other successful streaks, this one is definitely going to sting a little bit come Saturday morning.

The home team Gators (7-3-1, 1-2 SEC) lost to the Lady Vols 2-1 in double overtime Friday night. It is the first win ever for Tennessee in Gainesville, as UF entered the match with a 34-0-2 home record versus Southeastern Conference rivals since 1997. In the 10-year history of Gator soccer, the only other SEC rival to defeat the Gators at home was Vanderbilt (2-0) early in the 1997 season.

Coach Becky Burleigh was disappointed, but extremely upset with the way it ended.

"I thought it was a real even match and both teams had their own opportunities," she said.

The game, which was delayed an hour because of lighting in the area, had plenty of rainfall in the first half but Burleigh wasn't one to make excuses for her team.

"The weather had no effect," she said. "If anything it helped them because they are more direct in their attack, but I don't think it was a factor."

UF and UT are no strangers when it comes to down to the wire finishes. This was the fifth overtime contest in the last seven matches. However, it was the Gators that headed into halftime with the lead.

Freshman midfielder Daniela Sanchez earned her first collegiate goal in the 40th minute when senior Stephanie Freeman took a free kick from the top of the box. Freeman, the 2003 SEC Player of the Year, fired a rocket at the Lady Vol goalkeeper, which she couldn't handle. The ensuing rebound went right to Sanchez who fired the ball in.

"It was a beautiful free kick from Freeman," Sanchez said. "She placed it perfectly right in the center. Jamie Garside got a head on it and I just found the back of the net. It was a big goal. It was nice that I got it, but I would've rather have won."

In the 52nd minute, the Lady Vols took advantage of some sloppy Gator defense to tie the score at one all on a goal by Kristin McGrath.

It wasn't until the 107th, out of a possible 110, that Tennessee struck on a golden goal that UF goalkeeper Jen Gardner couldn't handle. After dropping the ball from a shot, the rebound opportunity was put away for the Volunteer win.

"I'm sure she's disappointed that she gave up that goal, but they made the play," Burleigh said. "If we had defenders following up it wouldn't have been an easy put away for them."

There was a silver lining in Friday night's defeat though. Freshman Jasmine Johnson emerged as a force on the field with her speed. Sanchez's first-half goal from the free kick was set up by Johnson penetrating and getting fouled. Again at 30 minutes of the second half Johnson was yanked down by a Tennessee defender in the box to no avail.

Coach Becky Burleigh was animated on the sideline at the officiating to put it nicely, but hinted that she expected better from referees.

"Jasmine got taken down a couple times, but the stats do not reflect the game," she said. "If you count the opportunities when we had that we were in and got fouled that didn't turn into shots, I mean I thought we had as many opportunities as they did."

When I asked Coach Becky to comment on the officiating her answer summed up the overall feelings towards the calls.

"I can't comment on the referees," she said. "But I'd love to."

The Gators will remain at home to play Georgia on Sunday at 2 p.m.


Fightin Gators Top Stories