Florida rolls Miami in 20th season opener

Published: Friday, August 22, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 12:37 a.m.

Inclement weather delayed the start of Friday night's season opener for the Florida soccer team by more than an hour, but neither Mother Nature nor visiting Miami could deter the Gators from celebrating a big win to kick off the 20th season in program history.

Eighth-ranked UF got a pair of goals from senior forward Jillian Graff, one in each half, and sophomore forward Savannah Jordan added another as the Gators downed the Hurricanes, 3-0, at Pressly Stadium.

“I was really, really happy with the way we started off and for us to do the things we did offensively in terms of our possession,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “What I really liked was the way we defended as a team. I felt like we really double- and triple-teamed a lot, which contributed to them turning the ball over and then giving us an opportunity to get the ball farther up the field.”

Graff, who was coming off an impressive preseason, was one of six seniors to start the game and responded by scoring the first goal of the season, tapping in a shot from point-blank range following a scrum in front of an empty Miami net in the game's eighth minute.

Her goal was the fourth-quickest scored in a UF season opener and the fastest since former standout Sarah Yohe set the program record by scoring just 56 seconds into action back in 1999.

Graff made it 2-0 in the game's 65th minute, scoring from 12 yards out after a nice pass from senior midfielder and former Buchholz standout Havana Solaun. Fellow senior Annie Speese also picked up an assist on the play.

It marked the first multiple-goal game of Graff's career.

“All throughout the preseason, we've been working on really being together as a team and working as a team on offense and on defense,” Graff said. “I think that really carried over to this game.”

Jordan, the 2013 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, got into the act with an unassisted goal from five yards out following a Miami turnover less than four minutes later to close out the scoring.

UF dominated play, finishing with a 17-2 edge in shots and a 9-1 advantage in corner kicks.

The Gators will go for an opening weekend sweep when they host South Florida at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The game will be played at the Donald R. Dizney Lacrosse Stadium and will be the first of two games played there this year. The other will be against Missouri on Sept. 28.

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