Sunday September 8, 2002UF Soccer Defeats No. 7 Nebraska 1-0
Dena Floyd's 40-yard goal at 57:50 was all UF needed to defeat No. 7 Nebraska 1-0.
A long-range goal was all the University of Florida soccer team needed to record its second consecutive victory over a top-10 team. The Florida Gators improved its record to 2-2 with a 1-0 win over No. 7 Nebraska (2-1-1) in front of a home crowd of 1,863 at Percy Beard Stadium. Florida also defeated No. 8 Connecticut 3-2 on Friday.
Florida had some excellent scoring chances in the opening half, but it couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities. "We had a couple of really good chances and we were a little disappointed that we didn’t put those away," said Head Coach Becky Burleigh. In the 26th minute, Gator forward Crystal Frimpong sent a pass up to Christine Johnson, who had beaten Nebraska goalkeeper Erin Miller, but sent her shot just left of the goal. Substitute Monica Hoyles also had a big shot in the box, but Miller was able to deflect it up over the goal in the 33rd minute.
The lone goal of the match was scored by midfielder Dena Floyd in the 58th minute. From forty yards out, Floyd hit a strike up field and that nailed the right corner of the net. It was Floyd’s first goal of the season and the third of her career. Coincidentally, her two goals from last year were both from twenty-five yards out. "I really didn’t think – I just shot the ball. When it went in, I was so excited. The whole team was so happy that we scored," Floyd said. Senior Kara Rao thought she had her first goal of the season, when her shot went through the Nebraska keeper’s legs but an offside call negated the goal.
This was the second consecutive match that Florida ran its new 4-3-3 system, which gave them a defensive boost. "The system that we’re playing now, the 4-3-3, the way we modified it has really made a big difference. It is really sound defensively because you’ve got so many numbers behind the ball and that creates more offense for us. I think a lot of that has to do with Christine Johnson up top. Before we were playing with three forwards that are very athletic, but we didn’t have a presence to hold the ball up top. When she holds it for us, it just changes the game. Our midfields play behind her and they’ve been very successful at getting out of quick jams."
Florida also started two freshmen against Nebraska, Candace Rivers and Cherry Pickman. Rivers was making her first start of the season, replacing sophomore Katie Johnston in the backline. Johnston will sit out the remainder of the season due to heel problems. Burleigh was pleased with their performances:
"Since Katie (Johnston) is done for the season, we had to put two freshmen in the middle of the back, and they came up big. This was a tough game for them to come into and what they did was very impressive," she said.
For the match, Florida outshot the Cornhuskers 12-5. UF Jordan Kellgren recorded her first shutout of the season and turned in three saves. UN’s Miller posted four saves.
Overall, Coach Becky Burleigh was satisfied with her team’s performance. "This is a huge win for us. I think this gives us a lot of confidence. If we can play with Nebraska, we can play with anybody."
Next up, Florida plays host to the Gator Invitational next weekend. Florida meets Syracuse on Friday, Sept. 13. Match time is set for 8:00 p.m. at the Percy Beard Stadium and admission is free.