The No. 9 Florida Gators soccer team recovered from its 3-2 loss to No. 5 Florida State on Friday by shutting out the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 5-0 on Sunday.
“The big question in this game was going to be how do we bounce back after such an emotional game like Friday? I thought that we responded really well,” Florida head coach Becky Burleigh said.
Although, the crowd at James G. Pressly Stadium didn’t match the attendance on Friday’s match, there was no lack of support for the Gators and America.
The Gators sported red, white and blue uniforms to honor the victims of Sept. 11 and fans were asked to trade in their orange and blue for the afternoon, too.
Florida (5-2) was called for off-sides early on, but quickly recovered when freshman midfielder Tessa Andujar made a goal with assist from freshman Jillian Graff 10 yards from center field.
“I saw Jill going down line, so I decided to drop back, and she gave me a great ball. I just saw the opening to shoot in and I did, and I’m just lucky it went in,” Andujar said.
The Gators kept attacking.
Junior forward Erika Tymrak scored 10 yards from the left side with an assist from senior midfielder Tahnai Annis.
The next blow to the Eagles came from freshman Lauren Silver with a goal from 18 yards on the left side assisted by freshman midfielder Annie Speese.
The first half ended with another Gator goal by sophomore midfielder Caroline Triglia. Her 15 yard goal from center field was assisted by sophomore forward Taylor Travis and Speese.
“To come out with 4 goals in the first half and to dominate the way we did was a really good testament to the leadership on our team,” Burleigh said. “Our big goal kicking out of half time was to make sure we keep the shut out.”
During the second period, the Eagles did see more possession of the ball, taking their first shots on the goal all game and kicking their first corner kick, but it was Gators senior forward Lindsay Thompson who put the first and only point of the second period on the board.
Even though the Gators were up the entire game, the girls never stopped playing.
“We show our opponents respect by keep going as hard as we can and never letting up, and I think we tried to do that today,” Andujar said.
The Gators were able to rotate in 30 of their players, but it wasn’t a challenge to stay in sync with one another.
“We have a lot of depth on this team, so it wasn’t really much different. We all train together we know what runs, and we work on where we are supposed to be when, and so it really wasn’t much different,” Annie Speese said.
Getting a chance to play with the entire team helps the girls become accustomed to one another.
“I think we are learning game by game and learning how each other moves and works together. I think we are just going to get better and better,” Andjuar said. “It was nice to see a lot of people get in and be able to cheer for my teammates.”
With room for plenty of substitutions, the girls were able to rest more than they did against FSU.
“I think it was great for us to get a lot of people in this game because we played a lot of people the other night that did play a full 90, and that’s not easy in that type of game, so for them to have a little bit of a rest here in this game, that’s perfect,” Burleigh said.
The head coach said both veterans and rookies dominated, and the rookies stepped up to the challenge of the game.
“We just want to keep the level high from the first player on our team to the last player on our team,” Burleigh said.
The team was happy to end the weekend at home with a win because they will be saying goodbye to the Swamp for a couple of weeks as they play Missouri on Sept. 16.
“I think it helps us a lot, we get some positive out of the weekend instead of just coming out of a loss, Speese said. “We are going to go into practice this week and work hard and get ready for the next game.”