The Gators put out everything they had in their last game of the season, pulling through with a 0-0 tie with the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros.
Both teams kept the long battle in the center field for the majority of the first 45 minutes with plenty of intercepted passes and stolen possessions. By the end of the half, the Gators only took five shots on goal while the Toros had four.
Head coach Jack Hyde said the team’s biggest challenge today was putting a ball in the back of the net.
“It’s just the way it bounces sometimes,” Hyde said. “We struggled all season, really, trying to score the goal.”
Although they had a slow start, the Gators picked up the pace as the game went into overtime, taking nine shot attempts in the 10-minute period. Senior midfielder Nicole Vanni led the team with five close shot attempts, missing one after an adrenaline-pumping break away run at Toros goalkeeper Tiffany Hollis.
Although the game was scoreless, Hyde thought the team played a strong game to end the season.
“Sometimes it’s emotional on Senior Day and the game becomes a secondary item, but it wasn’t today,” Hyde said. “They played really well.”
Both Gator seniors, Vanni and goalkeeper Annicia Jones, played their hardest in their last game as Gator soccer players. Vanni led the team in shot attempts while Jones succeeded in ending her last game with another shutout — her fourth for the season.
“(There) was a lot more emotions in this game,” Jones said. “We were all in it because we knew it was our last game, especially for me and Vanni, so we really wanted to go out there and make our mark on the field.”
Assistant coach Robin Bowman said Jones and Vanni have been effective leaders for the team throughout the seasons and important components to each game they played.
“They’ve been our two best players all season long,” Bowman said. “I wish we could keep them for a couple more years!”
Jones finished her season with 75 saves for the Gators while Vanni scored five goals, had five assists and 43 shots.
“(Vanni) works her ass off, and that’s something I can say about her,” Jones said. “She’s a great captain. Never had a captain like her, but she’s definitely somebody who I’ll always remember as a teammate and as a friend and as a mentor as well.”
Jones did not exactly have the season she wanted in her last year, but she said she does feel like she succeeded individually as the team’s goalkeeper.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say (the season) went the way I wanted to because my goal would have been to make playoffs, but as far as leaving my presence with the team, I feel like I at least accomplished that,” Jones said.
Jones said she plans to work with next season’s goalie, sophomore Allison Land, this spring.
Overall, Hyde said he is proud of the team’s progress and has enjoyed the season.
“We were a little short on results, but we were in there. We were able to challenge all the teams,” Hyde said. “After the first three games of the season, we were in every game. It was very close.”
For next year, Bowman said that although they are losing the two seniors, she is looking forward to maintaining the majority of the team.
“We’re excited about rebuilding. Of course we gotta go recruit again, but we don’t have that many positions to fill, so we’re in a good position,” Bowman said.