ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - - A goal in each half sends Florida ahead to the Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament semifinal round after a 2-1 victory over No. 16 Texas A&M Tuesday evening at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
Florida faces regular-season champion and No. 6 Arkansas in the first of Thursday's semifinal matches. The Razorbacks advanced with a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Mississippi. That match airs live on the SEC Network at 4:30 p.m. ET.
The Gators' fourth corner kick led to the only goal of the opening half. The ball sent by Sammie Betters was headed straight up in the air by Parker Roberts. Just before it hit the ground, Roberts' sliding right foot put the ball in at the near post in the 41st minute.
Betters also played a part in Florida's second goal in the 63rd minute. From the center circle, Julia Lester played the ball to her right to Betters. The ball Betters sent through the box was run down by Vanessa Kara. The deep shot by Kara was bobbled by TAMU goalkeeper at the post and was ruled over the line.
Texas A&M's Ally Watt, the SEC Forward of the Year, cut the lead to a single goal with her 25-yard free kick.
- Roberts' score extends her career season-best goals total to five. Her previous high was three goals as a Kansas freshman in 2015 and also as a Gator sophomore in 2017.
- Kara's goal extends her team-leading total to nine. It was her third goal versus the Aggies, as she scored UF's final two goals in its 3-1 win on Oct. 6.
- Betters' increases her career season-best assists total to four. She now shares second among the 2019 Gators in assists, one behind Cassidy Lindley's five.
- This is Florida's 22nd SEC Tournament appearance in the program's 25-year history.
- Tonight's win evens the all-time series between Florida and Texas A&M to eight wins each. In the four seasons the teams faced each other twice, this is the first time the Gators claimed both wins.
Florida: 11-7-1, 6-3-1 SEC
Texas A&M: 13-4-3, 7-2-1 SEC
What the Gators Said:
On team's performance tonight:
"We are really happy to be moving ahead to the next round. Always expect any match against Texas A&M to be a good one and this one was no different. I thought we did a good job of putting pressure on them early and I think that set the tone for the game." - Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh
On moving ahead to SEC Tournament semifinal:
"We are looking forward to taking on Arkansas. It is a team we haven't seen this year and the highest ranked team in the SEC. We're just excited about playing good competition." - Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh
On her goal:
"It was probably the weirdest goal I've ever scored. We've been working on that set piece. I tried to get near post and get something on it. I knew I headed it and then I had no idea where it went. I could hear everyone yelling my name 'Parker, Parker, Parker!' so I knew it must be on top of me. I saw it coming down so tried to get something on it and put it on target and that was enough."- Florida junior Parker Roberts
"I found myself in a similar position as one of the goals scored against them earlier this season. I made eye contact with Sammie [Betters] and got myself in a good slot. Honestly my angle was bad but I thought 'I'm going to take a chance on it.' It found the back of the net, or rather just over the line." - Florida senior Vanessa Kara
On team's performance tonight:
"Thought it was one of the greatest wins we've had this season. Texas A&M is never an easy team to play against, especially the second time. Think the first time we played wasn't the best depiction of them. I think this was more accurate - it's always a battle and always tough. We battled really hard and I'm proud of our effort." - junior Parker Roberts
Next Up: Florida faces top-seeded and No. 6 Arkansas in Thursday's first semifinal at 4:30 p.m. ET. That match airs on the SEC Network with Gator Great Heather Mitts, Mike Watts and Jill Loyden calling the action. You can also hear Ryan Urquhart's call on GatorVision.