No. 9 Florida Gators soccer may very well have a freshman sensation on its hands, and her name is Savannah Jordan.
As the Gators (2-0) kicked off the 2013 season over the weekend with a pair of 3-1 victories – defeating the FGCU Eagles (0-1) on Friday and Oregon State Beavers (0-2) on Sunday at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL – Jordan made her presence known by scoring five-straight goals, registering a hat trick and becoming just the second freshman in program history to score twice in a season opener.
Junior midfielder Havana Solaun got things going for Florida on Friday when she booted in the Gators’ first goal of the season at 35′ from 12 yards in front of the net.
Florida then allowed FGCU to pull even just minutes before halftime at 44’ in what would be the only shot the Eagles were able to attempt all evening.
Jordan did what she should to break the tie and ensured she would win her first career collegiate match, responding by scoring a pair of unassisted goals – first at 81’ to take the lead and then at 86’ to provide a bit of insurance for her team.
In doing so, she became the first Florida freshman since 1995 – the program’s inaugural season – to score twice in a season opener (Aimee Wagstaff).
Junior goalkeeper Taylor Burke, one of the Gators’ six returning starters from 2012, did not mind the net during the opening contest. Instead, freshman Nora Neset Gjøen started in her place and allowed a goal on the only shot taken.
Burke returned to her normal starting role on Sunday and surrendered one goal while defending the two total shots Florida allowed in the contest.
Jordan quickly made her presence known once again, doubling up for the Gators in the first half by scoring at 12’ and 38’ to spot UF a 2-0 lead at the break. For her second goal, Jordan was forced to beat three defenders before finding the back of the net.
The Beavers cut their deficit with a goal at 66’, but Jordan responded by registering a hat trick – scoring her third goal of the evening and fifth-straight through two matches – at 83′. Her five goals set a school record for the most scored by a freshman in the first two games of a season.
“She’s just a natural finisher and we knew that when we were recruiting her and she has done a great job taking care of her opportunities,” said Gators head coach Becky Burleigh after Sunday’s match.
Florida is hoping to defend the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles it swept in 2012, and the league’s coaches voted the Gators as the odds-on favorite to do so in the preseason.
Jordan’s early emergence could go a long way to helping Florida accomplish this goal, especially considering the team lost some big-time players to graduation.