I wasn't able to make it out to Florida's soccer team's pivotal SEC battle against South Carolina on this Thursday night, but I was able to send an approving tweet ... of the marketing department's decision to make the night's giveaway, a sweet Gators scarf, one that fans would have to stick around until the second half to receive.
One hopes that induced some fans who would otherwise have ditched the game early to stick around for the duration — because if they did, they saw perhaps the greatest finish in Florida soccer history.
With just seconds left in double overtime, junior midfielder Liz Slattery corraled a ball in the box, then sent a fluttering prayer of a shot toward the goal ... and it floated just over Gamecocks goalkeeper Caroline Kelly's outstretched hands with just one second of play remaining, giving the Gators a 2-1 win double overtime win.
It was the latest goal in Florida history since college soccer adopted a double-overtime golden goal format with two 10-minute periods, and the latest relative to time remaining in all of the program's two decades of existence. (A 119th-minute goal in 2001 is the latest by minutes alone in Gators history.) And Slattery's feat is seemingly insuperable: Only a goal that comes literally as time expires could top it.
But, moreover, the goal gave Florida a leg up on the field in pursuit of an SEC title. The Gators came into Thursday night's game tied with Missouri and South Carolina with 16 points (from a 5-2-1 record) in league play, and now have 19 points, and a three-goal lead both schools by three points.
With just two games to play, the Gamecocks can't catch the Gators if Florida wins out. Only Missouri can do that, and the Tigers, who aren't even receiving votes in the most recent NSCAA Coaches poll (Florida is No. 8, South Carolina No. 17; three other SEC teams sitting on 15 points are also ranked), will have to win two road games and defeat No. 23 Texas A&M at home to do so.
Florida's path to their maximum 25 points is much easier: The Gators' remaining games are a home contest with Arkansas and a road trip to Georgia, teams that have a combined 10 points in SEC play.