By Kyle LoJacono
University of Tampa (UT) woman’s soccer player and Steinbrenner High graduate Cici Gonzalez recorded her first career college goal on Aug. 31 in a 3-1 win against Anderson University.
The freshman forward was told about an hour before the game that she’d be in the starting lineup.
“It’s like a whole new level, and it’s just overwhelming to know that all my hard work paid off, that I get to play here at such a great school,” Gonzalez said. “I was excited really. I wasn’t nervous. … I just wanted to be able to keep up and make an impact. I just wanted to prove that I deserved to be on the field and keep the starting spot I was given.”
Gonzalez did just that, scoring in the 26th minute of the Spartans’ (4-1) season opener. Gonzalez headed home a loose ball sent into the box off a cross from Jess Frank.
“I saw the goalie going for it, and the defender was there,” Gonzalez said. “I just jumped as high as I could and got there first. It went in the top (left) corner. … I was just kind of like ‘Wow, I just scored.’ It was overwhelming and at the same time exciting. It was nice because it was the first goal of the game, so it put us ahead, and it was the first goal of the season.”
Gonzalez scored again in the second half, this time heading in a corner kick taken by Courtney Peffley on the right side of the net.
Gonzalez scored a pair of goals and recorded two assists in UT’s 13-0 win at home on Sept. 4 against Florida Memorial University, the most goals in a game in program history.
Teammate Lauren Moore, a Gaither High graduate, scored a program record five goals in the lopsided victory, all coming in the first half.
“It was unreal,” said Moore, a sophomore forward. “For a few of them I think I was just in the right place at the right time. They just kept adding up.”
Moore’s previous high was two goals in a college game. She said she once scored three times while at Gaither but has never recorded five tallies in a contest at any level.
“After the first two I was thinking two goals is pretty good,” Moore said. “Then the third came and the fourth. I started looking over to the scoreboard to see how much time was left. In my mind I was just literally shocked because that doesn’t happen.”
The Spartans broke their newly set record on Sept. 7 with a 14-1 home win against Warner University. Moore and Gonzalez each recorded a pair of goals and an assist in the victory.
Moore is leading UT with 19 points (nine goals, one assist), while Gonzalez is second with 16 (six goals, four assists). Moore also has a team-high 30 shots this season, while Gonzalez has 26.
The Spartans play at Sunshine State Conference rival Florida Tech Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.
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