Cats Suffer Heartbreaking 2-1 Overtime Loss at Florida

Sept. 26, 2009

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GAINESVILLE, FL – It was a tale of two halves for the UK women's soccer team (3-3-3, 0-1-0 SEC) as they dropped a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker in Gainesville to the 10th ranked (NSCAA) Florida Gators (7-3-0, 1-0-0).

After a subpar first half that saw the Cats go without a shot, all it took at halftime was a lesson in respect.

“We have great respect for Florida and their tradition and the excellence they have here and all the respect for (UF head coach) Becky (Burleigh) and her staff,” said UK head coach Jon Lipsitz. “But we have to understand there's a difference between respect, and being passive because we think they're so good. The greatest sign of respect is bringing your best game against everybody. We talked about at halftime the need to be ‘us' and the need to understand that while we greatly respect Florida and their tradition and that they're defending champion, we have to be ‘us' and play the way we're capable of playing. I'm extremely proud of the players for the response they made. I thought we played extremely well in the second half and overtime. I think this game was a story of goalkeeping. Both keepers made saves to keep their teams in the game and I think both teams thought they had the game won in overtime, it's just unfortunate the way it ended at the end.”

And while both keepers did everything they could to keep their teams in the game, UK goalie Sydney Hiance was unable to stop a Florida penalty kick in the 99th minute that led the Gators to victory.

The Cats thought they had the victory in the 93rd minute. Following a Florida foul, UK's free kick found its way to Laura Novikoff who fired a shot from 25 yards out towards the far upper 90 of the goal, but a diving stop by UF goalie Katie Fraine preserved the tie.

“I think everybody in the stadium, except for Katie Fraine, thought the ball was in the back of the net,” said Lipsitz. “I can tell you that when the ball was half way to the goal, I was looking at my team because I knew they were running on to the field. While we desperately want to win every game, we have to also give credit to fantastic plays. That was a save that we all applauded.”

Florida wasted little time recording their first goal of the SEC season, with Lindsay Thompson doing the honors in the 13th minute. Thompson took a pass from Erika Tymrak, took a couple dribbles and fired a shot right at UK goalie Sydney Hiance. Hiance got a hand on the ball, but was knocked off balance as the ball trickled into the back of the net.

The Wildcats had a golden opportunity in the 51st minute to tie the game when Giuleana Lopez pushed a ball through the Florida defense to Novikoff. Novikoff beat the Gator defender to the ball and found herself one-on-one with Fraine. However, Novikoff was unable to get a good enough angle on the ball and her shot went directly at the Florida keeper.

The Wildcats did tie the game five minutes later on Lopez's second goal of the season. Lopez controlled the ball on the far side of the field and when a Florida double team came, she played a little give and go with Stefani Kildare who came over to help. Kildare pushed the ball back to Lopez who took a few dribbles along the top of the 18-yard box and fired a shot with her left foot just inside the left post to tie the game.

Lopez threatened to break the tie in the 75th minute when she controlled a turnover and found herself one-on-one with Fraine. However, a hard touch on the ball pushed it ahead to right to Fraine, ending the UK attack.

Florida nearly won it in the first minute into the first overtime. Brooke Thigpen had a clean look and hard shot off an entry pass, but Hiance was there for a diving deflection and the UK defense cleared the ball out of bounds.

Novikoff and Lopez led the Cats on the offensive end with two shots each.

The Wildcats close out the weekend on Sunday at No. 12 South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. Live stats and blog will be available at UKathletics.com.