espnW Soccer Player Of The Week: Florida's Savannah Jordan
Think globally, score locally.
Savannah Jordan didn't have to go very far to produce the most impressive week in college soccer. Instead, what the University of Florida junior did to help ensure in-state bragging rights for the eighth-ranked Gators is enough to make her espnW's national player of the week.
With United States national team coach Jill Ellis among those in attendance, Jordan opened her account on the week with a hat trick and an assist in Florida's 4-2 win on the road at Miami this past Wednesday, her second hat trick in two-plus seasons with the Gators and a career high in points. The Hurricanes may or may not be in for the kind of difficult season expected of a team picked to finish 12th in the ACC, but Wednesday's result still marked just the second time in the past four seasons that they allowed as many as four goals at home (with no shortage of opportunities against the caliber of competition they annually face in conference).
Yet with hat tricks in ample supply across the country, notably from player-of-the-week contenders like Illinois' Jannelle Flaws and DePaul's Elise Wyatt, Jordan's midweek performance needed to be merely the foundation of her award campaign. The finishing touch, literally, came when she opened the scoring with an 18th-minute goal in Florida's 3-2 win against top-ranked and defending national champion Florida State on Sunday.
It may not have been a perfect day, but tasked with playing alone up top in a 4-1-4-1 formation as the Gators tried to cut off their opponent's trademark control of midfield, Jordan's ability not just to score a goal but remain influential was crucial in what ranks as the season's best win for any team.
In fact, influence is something Jordan provides as readily as goals, and at times independently of them. That is saying something for the most prolific goal scorer in college soccer at the moment, someone who, with 47 goals in 51 career games, has a chance to be the 11th player in NCAA history to score 90.
Go back to the hat trick against Miami. Florida coach Becky Burleigh said that after a scoreless opening 45 minutes the message at halftime, from both her and players, was less about tactics than playing with a desire to "scrap to get what we could." It sounded good in the aftermath of a win, yet 11 minutes into the second half, it was Miami that took a 1-0 lead, the same score by which Florida had lost a week earlier at Ohio State.
All of 101 seconds later, Jordan took in a pass on the left side of the 18-yard box, deftly kept the ball from getting tangled in her feet, made a quick dribble toward space to her right and beat the goalkeeper to the near post. Three minutes after that, this time on the other side of the box, she posted up a defender as well as anyone on Amanda Butler's women's basketball team will this season, received a pass, spun quickly to her left, toward the end line, and split the defender and the goalkeeper with a shot to the far post.
She scrapped for those goals, but she did it with world-class athleticism.
Miami almost instantly erased the lead to pull level at 2-2. No matter. Within five minutes of that equalizer, Jordan turned playmaker to put the Gators in front to stay. She settled a long pass from Christen Westphal and maintained the awareness to chip a pass that landed on the foot of freshman Sarah Troccoli, who did the rest with a terrific finish.
As the game wound to a close, having played every minute (despite the conditions in Miami and Gainesville in late August, she played all 180 minutes in the week's games), Jordan was still moving and still had the quickness to separate from a defender and make just enough space for herself to score the final goal.
Follow her lead. Follow her goals. Either way, Jordan can take the Gators places.