Gators Host First SEC Opponent of Season

A two-hour rain delay could not throw the Gators off their game. Florida opened SEC play last Thursday with a 3-0 victory over LSU in the bayou.

After nearly a week off, the longest break of the season so far, the Gators continue conference play this weekend, beginning tonight. Florida (5-4) faces two teams who have combined for 14 wins and 3 losses this season.

Missouri (6-2-1)

The Gators host an SEC opponent for the first time this year when Mizzou visits tonight at 6:30.

The Tigers are a high-scoring team; they have netted 19 goals through nine games so far. Nine different players have scored for Missouri, but sophomore forward Julissa Cisneros and senior forward Sarah Luebbert stand out among them. They led the squad in goals last season and are again at the top of the pack. Cisneros has scored five this year while Luebbert has found the back of the net four times while chipping in with three assists, tied for the team lead.

Luebbert earned high praise from Florida coach Becky Burleigh, who mentioned her specifically when discussing what to expect from this Mizzou team:

Missouri had six wins in the entirety of last season, and one of those wins was a 2-0 victory over the Gators. Florida, though, is 18-4-2 in SEC home openers and owns a better record historically against the Tigers, at 7-2-2.

No. 8 Vanderbilt (8-1)

The Gators then travel to Nashville for an afternoon game on Sunday for a tough road test.

This is the first ranked team Florida has played since FSU in September. Vanderbilt has won four of its last five, and seven of their eight victories have been shutouts. The Commodores have not dropped a game at home since 2017.

Redshirt sophomore forward Haley Hopkins leads the team with nine goals. Perhaps most notably, though, are Vandy’s strong goalkeepers. Lauren Demarchi and Taiana Tolleson have split time in net for the Commodores so far. Combined, they have allowed three goals all season. Both are seniors and have been alternating at the position since they were freshmen.

Surging Gators

Florida goes into the weekend riding a hot streak. The team has won its last three, scoring ten goals while conceding zero in the span. Burleigh believes that their tough non-conference schedule to start the season has prepared the team for SEC play:

Senior forward Vanessa Kara can do no wrong, as she has scored five of the ten goals during the win streak. Winger Kit Loferski has also been playing well lately, constantly posing a threat down the flank. She leads the team with four assists, including one in the last game against LSU. Loferski also notched her second goal of the season in Louisiana.

About John Miceli

I'm a senior journalism student at Florida. I love sports, and I love covering sports. I'm one of the beat writers for the Gator soccer team right now, and if you follow me on Twitter @johnmiceli13 you'll never miss a soccer update

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