Florida Gators head coach Becky Burleigh bids farewell to home fans
GAINESVILLE, FLA. – The Florida Gators soccer program celebrated a historic night on Thursday, as head coach Becky Burleigh and members of her staff coached for the last time at home.
Burleigh and associate head coaches Vic Campbell and Alan Kirkup made their final Dizney Stadium appearance a positive one, as the Gators earned a 3-1 win over Georgia Southern.
Burleigh announced in January she would retire at the end of 2020-21 campaign. She and Campbell have been with Florida for each of its 26-season history and Kirkup joined the staff for the 2006 campaign. The win give the program a home record of 230-44-16 (0.821).
Past players were among the Dizney Stadium crowd to cheer the Gators and their coaches in their 2020-21 home finale. Also among the crowd were those who worked with Burleigh at the University Athletic Association, including Jeremy Foley and Steve Spurrier. The three coaches were honored pre-match and Burleigh spoke to the fans following the win. She was touched by the flowers placed where her parents cheered the Gators for many years before they passed away before the 2017 season.
After 26 seasons, it was time for @BeckyBurleigh to say good-bye to the 🐊⚽️ home crowd. 🧡💙
— Gators Soccer (@GatorsSoccer) March 12, 2021
Senior Madison Alexander opened the scoring in the 17th minute. The play started with a free kick above the middle of the box. Parker Roberts’ kick found Laney Steed just in front of the Eagles’ wall. Steed sent the ball directly to her left for Alexander. Her right-footed shot scored from 12 yards.
The second goal started when Deanne Rose sent the ball to freshman Tori Grambo at the top of the Eagles defensive third. Grambo moved toward the middle and her 20-yard right-footed shot scored just inside the far post.
The Eagles cut the lead to a single goal with Debra Ruiz’s goal in the 87th minute.
A late goal off a 25-yard strike by Roberts finished the scoring for Florida’s 3-1 win. The final goal started with Rose driving the end line. She sent the ball to the top of the box where Grambo touched it out to Roberts. Her strike hit the underside of the crossbar and banged in at 88:45.
- Roberts pushes out her team leading totals for goals (5) and points (14) after tonight’s match.
- Steed added to her team leading assist total as she now has five for 2020-21.
- Two Gator seniors made their collegiate debuts Thursday.
- Lauren Evans was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia days after Gators concluded 2017 season. She rang bell to signal end of cancer and treatments at UF Health Shands on June 14, 2018. Chemotherapy effects on body sidelined her for 2019 but as recovery progressed, rejoined the Gator team for training in 2020-21.
- Ashley Pietra, who joined the team as a temporary walk-on in the fall of 2017, earned a permanent spot after a unanimous vote from the players and coaching staff.
Florida: (4-7-2, 1-6-1 SEC)
Georgia Southern (4-11-1, 3-6-1 SBC)