Notebook: UF soccer hosts SEC weekend slate
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 10:56 p.m.
It's an SEC home weekend for the No. 8 Florida soccer team, which plays No. 19 South Carolina tonight at 7 at Pressly Stadium before hosting Auburn Sunday at 2 p.m.
“This is going to be a good weekend,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “Our games with South Carolina are always tough games, and same with Auburn.
“It will be nice to play at home in front of our own crowd again and sleep in our own beds.”
The Gamecocks (9-1-1, 2-1) and Gators (8-2-1, 2-1) have traditionally played at the end of the year. Tonight's match is the earliest they have met since 2002. South Carolina comes in having allowed only four goals all season, tops in the conference.
“They're hard to score on because they don't take a lot of risks going forward, but they like to counter,” Burleigh said. “I think we have to be really good at executing offensively.”
Florida is coming off a 1-0 road loss at Missouri on Sunday in which the Tigers scored a goal in the eighth minute and made it stand up. The defeat ended a seven-match unbeaten streak for UF.
“We're excited,” said freshman forward Savannah Jordan, who leads the team and is tied for the top spot in the SEC with 11 goals. “After Sunday's game, I think we're going to be focused in more and want to come out with a lot of fire under us.”
Four of the last five UF meetings with both the Gamecocks and the Tigers have been decided by one goal, including a pair of overtime contests with Auburn (4-6-1, 0-3).
No. 3 Florida should be tested by a tough Texas A&M team tonight at 7 in the O'Connell Center.
The Gators (13-1, 2-0) have won eight straight matches, seven by sweep, while the only losses for the Aggies (9-3, 1-0) have all come to ranked teams.
Despite graduating their top offensive players from last year, the Aggies are a formidable squad led by senior setter Allie Sawatkzy, a 6-foot-2, offensive-minded left-hander who averages 9.81 assists per set and has recorded 91 kills with a team-high .328 hitting percentage.
“The setter for A&M is very talented, and this will prepare us down the road,” junior defensive specialist Madison Monserez said. “We're going to play more offensive setters, and she is the perfect example of an offensive, talented, aggressive setter.”
Last year, A&M, which will be making its first visit to the O-Dome, took UF to five sets in College Station before losing, 3-2.
“They had so many good seniors a year ago, and to graduate the talent they had and be where they are today speaks volumes of their staff,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “They block well, they're getting good production out of everybody, and they aren't just relying on one arm.”
It is a rare split weekend for UF, which faces another tough opponent in Alabama in Tuscaloosa Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Crimson Tide (13-3, 1-1) has rolled to wins in 11 of their last 12 matches.