It is no secret that the Florida soccer team is not the best it has been in a while. But this weekend, the team is looking to start fresh. The Gators will open up SEC play against the Vanderbilt Commodores in a home match on Sunday.
The Gators have not been able to find the net in their last six games, which translates to five losses and a draw. Although the team meshes nicely together on the field, a slew of injuries (including 2 ACL tears) and a tough schedule are proving difficult for the team to overcome. Senior midfielder Mayra Pelayo took a tackle to the right shin against UCF. But she has been focusing on who is taking the field.
Three of Florida’s last six opponents have been ranked in the top 3 at some point this season. The team’s lone draw came in a match against previously-ranked No. 2 UCLA. In their penultimate game, the Gators fell 1-0 to currently-ranked No. 2 Florida State. In between UCLA and FSU, Florida fell 3-0 to No. 3 Southern California.
In those last six games, senior goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese made the greatest on-the-field impact with a whopping 30 saves.
Vanderbilt is having an outstanding year, currently sitting 7-1 on the season. The Gators’ record right now is 2-5-1. The last time the team had five losses this early was in 2000, when they were 3-5 through 8 games. Since then, Florida has averaged 4.94 losses in a season.
But, all the Gators can focus on is the situation going on right now. Coach Becky Burleigh says the team is looking inward heading into SEC play.
She adds that the team is “looking forward to a fresh start… because anything can happen.”
Florida soccer will host Vanderbilt on Sunday at 3 in the Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Senior forward Melanie Monteagudo mentions that the new stadium is a fun atmosphere to play in.
Conference play sometimes awakens a force inside struggling teams. And if any soccer team can bounce back, it’s the Florida Gators.