ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - In an 11-goal match that saw four ties and five lead exchanges, it was the Gators taking a 6-5 overtime win over Kentucky Friday in Southeastern Conference Tournament opening round action at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
Sophomore Cassidy Lindley hit the winner in the 96th minute, giving Florida the decisive sixth goal in the 600th match in the program's 26-year history. The win moves Florida ahead to Sunday's SEC Tournament second round play to face Missouri.
Settle in for this scoring review. Eleven combined goals equals the most ever for the Florida program. Florida's Parker Roberts scored the first in the 24th minute. A deep cross from Cassidy Lindley was attempted to be cleared by UK but Roberts one-touched it in from 14 yards.
The Wildcats scored the next three, with the first two coming within a minute. Emily Hahnel won the ball just above the Florida box. She sent it to Maria Olson at the top of the box who quickly sent it left for Jordyn Rhodes making a run down the left side of the box. Rhodes hit a 12-yard shot to the far corner at 25:32 for the first tie of the match.
Just 24 seconds later, Kentucky took its first lead when Úlfa Úlfarsdóttir hit a 25-yard shot at 25:56. First half scoring closed in the 29th minute after Roberts hit a penalty kick when the Gators were whistled for a handball in the box.
Second half scoring started with a three-goal stretch by the Gators. Lindley took the throw-in from Nicole Vernis and then moved across the top of the box before hitting a 20-yard shot to the far post in 62nd minute for her first goal of 2020. Another Gator, sophomore Laney Steed, scored her first goal of the season when she tied the match in the 68th minute.
Lindley's corner kick pinged around the far post after a Roberts' header attempt before it came to Steed at the top of the box. Her left-footed strike hit the near post and kicked in to tie the match at 3-all.
Florida took its second lead of the match when sophomore Alivia Gonzalez was fouled, giving the Gators their first penalty kick of the season. Deanne Rose, making her first appearance in a match since Oct. 18, successfully converted the shot in the 76th minute.
The Wildcats scored twice in a two-minute span to take a late lead. Hannah Richardson tied the match with her 17-yard shot to the upper corner at 82:38. Then Rhodes earned her first collegiate hat-trick when she headed in Gretchen Mills' corner kick at 83:57.
The play that forced overtime started with Steed sending the ball wide for Rose. The deep cross Rose sent to the middle of the box was headed in by Roberts at 88:03 for her second goal of the match.
The golden goal started with Steed sending the ball to Rose as she moved down the right side of the box. The cross Rose sent from just before the end line was one-touched in by Lindley at the near post at 95:25 for her second goal of the night.
- The 11-goal match equals the highest combined score in the program's 26-year history. Florida was also involved in 11 goal matches in 1999 (UF 11, LSU 0) and 1997 (UF 10, LSU 1).
- Eleven goals in a single match equals the SEC Tournament combined goals total record (1997, Vanderbilt 8, Arkansas 3)
- Last time Florida scored six goals in a single match? It was at Kentucky in 2018 (6-0 UF win). Florida played Kentucky a week ago in Lexington, losing 3-1. Roberts also scored in that match.
- Steed has scored both of her collegiate goals versus Kentucky. In addition to Friday night's match, Steed hit her first Gator goal when the two teams met at UF's Donald R. Dizney Stadium in 2019.
- This was Florida's third overtime match of the season and is now 1-1-1 in extra minutes.
- UK Head Coach Ian Carry missed both meetings with Florida in 2020 due to his positive COVID-19 test.
- Adding to Friday's post-match celebration was some balloons and cupcakes to celebrate UF Associate Head Coach Alan Kirkup's birthday.
What the Gators Said:
After the win: "That was one of the most crazy games I've ever been a part of. It was an emotional roller coaster, lots of resilience and perseverance shown. Thought we did a good job of halftime of not playing like we knew what the score was and just came out and really got after it. Huge shout out to our bench. They made a huge difference in our energy level the entire game. It was frustrating when we were down 3-1 as some of it was our own doing. But we had hit the tipping point where we were tired of that narrative and we had nothing to lose at that point. They played their hearts out." - Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh
On her golden goal: "We played down the line and Laney [Steed] played a great ball in to Deanne [Rose]. She got down to the end line and played the perfect ball across. All I had to do is be there and tap it in." - junior Cassidy Lindley
On the fight shown by the Gators: "Tonight was a very good look at who we used to be and we kind of lost it this season. Today we saw what Gator soccer is all about. From everyone on the bench to everyone on the field and even in the stands - honestly, that's what Gator soccer is about. We're about community, family and everyone stepped up for each other. It isn't just about what happened on the field but what happened off the field too." - junior Cassidy Lindley
Florida: 2-6-1, 1-6-1 SEC
Kentucky: 1-5-3, 1-4-3
SEC All-Time Series Record: Florida leads 24-5-3
SEC Tournament play continues Sunday when Florida faces another recent opponent, Missouri, in the finale of second round action.