After beginning the season with a 4-0 record, the Florida Gator soccer team arrived to the Husky/Nike Invitational in Seattle as the number two team in the nation. The Gators got split results in their weekend at the west coast. The Washington Huskies upset them 1-0 on Friday night, but the Gators recovered after getting a 1-0 victory over the Portland Pilots on Sunday night.
Gators’ Struggles to Create Offense
The Gators had a hard time when it came to create danger in the opponent last third. Those struggles mainly happened because of the lack of clarity by the backline to build up plays. In the first game of the weekend, the Huskies applied high pressure to the Gator defense. That led to the first and only goal of that game, which was scored by Shannon Simon in less than two minutes. Simon received the ball from a throw-in and took advantage of the wide open space that Gabby Seiler left to her; that space was enough for Simon to find a shooting angle and send the long shot just outside the box.
Things did not change for both teams after Simon’s goal. The Huskies continued applying a high-pressure attack to cut the passing lanes between the defenders and the midfielders. That forced the Gators to depend on the long game. The defense constantly sent long passes to both Mayra Pelayo and Lais Araujo. It was a strategy that worked a couple of times but could not end in a goal.
At the beginning of the game against the Pilots, it looked like the Gators were going to keep having playmaking struggles. The team had difficulties at finding spaces and having a good passing transition. But everything changed in the 24th minute when the Gators took advantage of a defensive misreading. Araujo saw that a Pilot defender abandoned her position on defense and decided to send a well-measured long pass to Seiler. Seiler received the ball while making the cut on transition. She let the ball bounce once and then sent it into the net. This was the fifth goal of the season for Seiler.
The Gators gained confidence and took control of the rest of the game. Both Briana Solis and Parker Roberts did a fantastic job at the zonal marking. They were pivotal at blocking the passing lanes, recovering the ball quickly and establishing the passing rhythm. The Gators dominated the pace of the game and created more opportunities thanks to their horizontal passing and possession of the ball.
Florida will play again on Friday night when it faces the Florida States Seminoles. That game will be the first game of a three-game stretch at home for the Gators.