The Florida Gators are back at home this Sunday against SEC rivals Alabama from James G. Pressly Stadium at 6:00 PM. The defending SEC champions look to bounce back after a 2-1 loss against Texas A&M on Thursday. Despite ranking sixth in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll and ninth in Women’s Soccer RPI, the Gators want to continue their undefeated start at home this season to continue the race for another SEC championship.
Bounce Back from Defensive Mistakes
The Florida Gators and Texas A&M entered the season being the two teams predicted to finish at the top of the SEC. Overall, Florida have not scored more than two goals in a game since scoring three on Stanford almost a month ago. However, discipline and possession have allowed them to not concede more than two goals in a game all season. College Station offered a new experience for the Gators. The Aggies played physical and fast, limiting Florida from passing effectively and maintaining possession.
The Gators defense held off the Aggies from taking advantage within the penalty box, but this could not translate that to efficient offense. Texas A&M surrounded any Florida player that attempted to move the ball with multiple defenders constantly. In the end, the Gators suffered two goals from distance because of defensive mistakes on set pieces. Poor marking and late reactions on defense allowed both a shot initiated from a throw-in and a free kick to fly in and score.
Florida head coach Becky Burleigh is not a fan of the Thursday-Sunday NCAA scheduling. Nonetheless, her squad needs to regain their dominance in both halves of the pitch by playing at a slower tempo. Deanne Rose’s early equalizer in the second half brought hope back, but it was not enough.
Rose has scored three consecutive goals for Florida, so the Gators should continue to utilize her great run of form again the Crimson Tide. Goalkeeper Kaylan Marckase tied her career record for saves with six for a second straight time.
Alabama were dominated 6-0 against the Gators last season, but there is no reason to live in the past. The Crimson Tide have yet to win an SEC game this season, but Burleigh believes Alabama head coach Wes Hart has recruited well for his team.
The win against Alabama was Florida’s biggest win last season in terms of goal differential. Three goals in three minutes in the second half had the Gators appear to be unstoppable. If the Gators can generate 18 shots as they did last season and make sure they are on target, then they are likely to leave with a win.