No. 8 Florida slips by Texas A&M
Barney’s 90th minute goal lifts Gators to comeback victory
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A goal with 15 seconds remaining in regulation gave No. 8 Florida (3-0-0) a 3-2 win against No. 18 Texas A&M (1-2-0) Friday evening in the opening round of play at the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic held at the Regal Soccer Stadium.
The game-winning goal by junior McKenzie Barney came after some key decisions and plays by her teammates when they were deep in the Aggie final third.
“We just capitalized on an amazing opportunity. My goal started because Erika Tymrak switched an awesome ball over to Jazmyne (Avant). Jazmyne beat her defender with that speed that everyone knows Jazmyne has. She played a great ball. I told her it is impossible to miss a ball like that. She literally put it on my feet –- I could choose which foot I wanted to play it with. Jo (Dragotta) was in the box pulling defenders off of me,” Barney said. “It was an awesome ball.”
The Gators didn’t always execute the style of play they wanted Friday, but Barney liked the way the team found a way to get the win.
“At the end of the day, we walk out of here with a “W” versus a team we really respect. Texas A&M is a great athletic team,” she said. “It might not have been the way we like to play, but sometimes you just have to find a way.”
The goal was the only one of the second half after both teams scored a pair in the opening 45 minutes. The Gators struck first in the 25th minute. Tymrak started the play by using a spin move to create the space and time she needed.
“Holly (King) had the ball in the middle and she passed it to me. I saw the defender coming so I knew that if I moved toward the goal, I’d run right into her so I kind of stepped on the ball to spin around her. I looked up and saw Havana (Solaun) wide open so I passed it to her. I continued my run and got it back inside the 18. I saw that the keeper was near post so I just slide it far post,” Tymrak said. “It was exciting to get my first goal (of the season).”
The Aggies scored the next two goals. An Aggie free kick from deep in the Gator box was crossed by Merritt Mathias and freshman Annie Kunz scored off a volley from 10 yards in the 30th minute. Six minutes later, freshman Kelly Monogue took advantage of a Gator turnover in their defensive third. Monogue brought the ball up the middle and scored from top of the box.
Florida knotted the score in the 39th minute. Senior Lindsay Thompson, who just entered the match in the previous minute, crossed the ball from the right and sophomore Taylor Travis headed it from 12 yards to the far post for her second goal of season.
“I believe Havana passed the ball down the line to LT who made an amazing cross. It was such a good cross I have to give the credit to her. I just got my head on it and it went in,” Travis said. “Let’s just say I was excited (to score that goal).
Both teams had their chances to get a second-half go-ahead goal. In the 52nd minute, Gator defenders Kathryn Williamson and Avant both cleared balls off the line in the scrum following an Aggie corner kick. Just four minutes later, an Aggie defender cleared out a Tymrak shot when the keeper was off her line. TAMU’s Katie Hamilton tried to take advantage of a Gator turnover in the 71st minute, but her shot hit the post.
In the final 10 minutes, Dragotta had a part in a pair of near misses before playing a part in the game-winning goal. In the 81st minute, Dragotta got open in the box, but her shot was blocked by a defender. With just a couple of minutes left, Dragotta crossed the ball into the box, but Barney just missed getting her foot on it before the keeper snuffed the play.
Senior Brooke Chancey made her second start of the season, recording three saves. Jordan Day also had three saves in goal for the Aggies.
UF head coach Becky Burleigh thought the Gators got away from their game plan, which will be something the team will need to work on as the season progresses.
“I thought the goals were all spectacular -– all three of them. They were highlight reel goals,” Burleigh said. “I thought we got away from our style of play a little bit and from that standpoint we’ve got to be more disciplined. We need to have more trust in each other that we can play the way we want to play and get results.”