Brian Dooley is ready to beat Florida.
Dooley, Missouri’s new associate head coach, spent his last 14 years as the head coach at Florida Atlantic University, located a little more than four hours from Gainesville, Fla.
Dooley knows the Florida program well. Before FAU, he coached at two other schools in the Florida area, Florida International University and Barry University.
“We drew them once,” he said of UF, “which was like winning the World Cup.”
This Missouri soccer team has its own history against the Gators.
The last time the Tigers saw the Florida, MU walked off the pitch with a giant “0” illuminated under its name on the scoreboard. The Gators shut the Tigers out, 3-0, in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Florida bested the Tigers earlier in the 2012 season as well, topping them 2-1 in Gainesville. The only Tiger who was able to score against Florida, Taiwo Adeshigbin, graduated last year.
No. 18 Florida will be rolling into Columbia Sunday for one of the Tigers’ toughest test thus far in the 2013 season and a chance at redemption for past losses.
“We have a history with Florida,” senior forward Alyssa Diggs said with a grin.
“It is going to be a tough game,” Diggs said. “Florida is a physical game, really competitive. They’re really good but we’re really good too. We’re ready for that challenge and the past is the past.”
Missouri is riding high after grabbing a road win at Mississippi State to start off conference play. These confident young Tigers understand the challenge ahead of them, and what is at stake in this matchup.
“With our new coach Dooley being from Florida, that’s super exciting ‘cause we’re not only playing for us but we’re playing for that,” senior defender Sarah Thune said. “We’re excited to start off conference play at home.”
Florida is carrying a 7-1-1 record into Audrey J. Walton Stadium. Of the Gators victories, five have been shutouts and all seven have come by at least two goals. This Gator squad hasn’t just been beating teams, they’ve been breaking teams.
Diggs, though, said this team loves a challenge. The Tigers aren’t scared by Florida’s stout defense and ferocious offense.
“We’re hard workers,” Diggs said. “We don’t mind being the underdog. It kind of excites me.”
“We’re not going to sit back and counter against anybody,” Dooley said. “That’s just not what we’re about. We’re going to press our opponents. We’re going to throw numbers at them and we’re going to disrupt what they like to do.”
Dooley hopes the home underdogs can do just that when they step onto the pitch against the Gators on Sunday.
“I’ve always been on the bench that had to say, ‘Hey, congratulations.’ So, hopefully, it’s the other way around on Sunday,” Dooley said.
“If I have to move to Missouri to beat Florida,” Dooley said, “I’m okay with that.”