TAMPA, Fla. – When University of Florida coach Becky Burleigh and her associate head coach Vic Campbell were recruiting Savannah Jordan, something they were told by Jordan’s club coach Brian Moore stayed with them.
“He always talked about how she liked to challenge herself,” Burleigh said recently.
A standout in the youth ranks thanks to the work of Moore and the Concorde Fire, that desire to challenge herself, and provide a platform for her freshman season in NCAA Division I Soccer, brought Jordan to the Atlanta Silverbacks and the W-League this past summer.
“I think over the summer I knew I didn’t want to take a month off, or even a couple of weeks of not playing soccer,” Jordan said. “I knew the Atlanta Silverbacks had a great coach, a great program, it was really competitive, and I think that helped me over the summer work on the things I wanted to work on and get better for the fall.”
For Burleigh, Jordan’s summer plans were a welcome sign.
“I was really excited when she told me she was going to play for the Silverbacks, because I knew that was a high-level team and I knew that she would get a good deal of experience playing against much older players,” the veteran coach said. “She had demonstrated some of that in the spring with us, but I think that’s just helped her development, to continue to play in the W-League.”
The work Jordan put in with the Silverbacks, as she emphasized making good runs into the penalty area and having a stronger presence in more facets of the game, definitely paid off. Not only did Jordan have a standout season in Atlanta as she scored eight goals and recorded three assists to earn All-League honors, she was then able to translate that form into her first games at UF. Named the NSCAA National Player of the Week after scoring five goals in her opening two games for the Gators, Jordan has quickly adapted to the speed and physicality of the college game, with some of the credit going to her experience in with the Silverbacks.
“Yeah, I think it helped a lot, because things are so much more physical and competitive,” Jordan said. “Like what we saw tonight, the girls were just physical, and I think that helped me a lot to build as a player in every aspect.”
With eight goals in eight games, Jordan has quickly become a target for opposing defenses as Florida moves toward its SEC schedule, starting against Alabama on Friday night. That was evident in Florida’s game against South Florida, where Jordan’s clear looks on goal were limited as different members of the Bulls’ defense, in particular K-W United’s Leticia Skeete and VSI Tampa Bay FC’s Cara Patterson, tried to contain the freshman standout.
“I know that it’s hard for me, because I did have such a successful start, that everyone’s on the lookout now,” Jordan said. “It’s a lot harder for me to get those opportunities like I did at the beginning when no-one really knew who I was, but now I think that’s just the challenge for me, fighting through that and overcoming obstacles and still being able to score.”
The good news for Jordan is she has a strong supporting cast behind her. Burleigh’s hope is her young scoring phenom can continue to build her game as part of the Gators’ program, with her link-up play with attacking midfielders such as Havana Solaun and Annie Speese a key as the side moves toward the postseason.
“I think she’s going to learn when she’s playing with us that she can give the ball up and get it right back, because of the way we play,” Burleigh said. “I think sometimes she’s so driven to score goals that she wants to do it, and that’s great because it makes her very dangerous, she can spin a defender, but I think also she’s going to learn combination play even to a bigger extent than she already has.”
As Jordan makes that as integral to her game as her finishing, the challenge will rest with the defenses she faces this fall, and next summer in Atlanta.