By Katelyn Massarelli
No matter what sport, there’s something about beating your rival that’s inherently satisfying. After a hard battle against fellow SSC powerhouse Florida Southern, the UT women’s soccer team came out on top with a season-defining 2-1 overtime victory against Florida. That being said, the win didn’t come without its share of shaky moments.
At halftime, the Spartans were losing 0-1 and collectively decided to step up their game when they realized their opponents were not going down without a fight. New head coach Erin Switalski calmed the team down, urging the women to come out in the second half with their heads held high and ready to compete.
“We were a little discouraged coming off the field in the first half,” said sophomore defender Miranda Gonzalez. “Erin gave us a great halftime talk and was able to pump us up and change our mindset going into the second half, which allowed us to come out stronger and improve our play so much. Once we started the second half, there was a sudden difference and I felt more comfortable with the way everyone was working hard and playing together. ”
Coach Switalski’s motivation worked. Soon after the second half began, freshman forward Korey O’Rourke promptly scored UT’s first goal of the night a minute into the second half.
“Korey O’Rourke was a key player,” Gonzalez said. “She always brings high energy when she steps on the field and her goal to tie the game sparked our momentum in the second half.”
Their high spirits continued to be a driving factor in the rest of the game. Key players like Gonzalez were a force that kept their team encouraged to come out with a win. Keeper Sydney Ross had a unique comparison for Gonzalez’s elusiveness on the field.
“I compare [Miranda Gonzalez] to a ninja because she comes out of nowhere and no one can seem to get to her,” Ross said. “She is the glue to our back line and I am sure she is respected by many teams in the conference.”
After an exhausting 62 more minutes on the field, senior midfielder Cici Gonzalez finally delivered the golden-goal in the 108th minute of the match.
“Cici is a player you can always rely on and she gives 110 percent for this team,” Ross said.
Though the senior ultimately netted the game winner, it was the hustle of some of the younger players that put them in the place to win. Freshman midfielder Nastasia Asgedom wore down the formidable Florida Southern defense all night long, proving that together they are a force to be reckoned with.
“Our team excels when we play together,” Junior midfielder Lauren Cicero said. “As individuals we are just okay, but when you put us all together and when we are all on top of our game, we are unbeatable.”
For the team, this was a triumphant win they were very proud of.
“It’s a confidence booster knowing that when our backs are against the ropes our team doesn’t give up but instead we step up and work even harder for each other in order to win the game,” Miranda Gonzalez said.
Going into the next game, there are things they need to work on to ensure their play is more fluid, such as maintaining focus and not falling behind early.
“Our team needs to stay focused and disciplined on the game ahead, take one team at a time and hopefully we can accomplish our individual and team goals together,” Cicero said.