By Jim Harvin
Seventh-ranked Florida came out focused and ready to play its 2017 home opener Sunday, and the result was a dominating 5-0 soccer win over Troy before a crowd of 821 at James G. Pressly Stadium.
“Before the game we talked a lot about the heat and just not letting it become a factor in the game,” redshirt senior and team captain Gabby Seiler said. “We obviously play in Gainesville every day, so it was something we were used to. We had that advantage over them for sure, especially mentally, so I think that helped us overall in the game as far as giving our best effort.”
Freshman Deanne Rose got things started with a goal in the 11th minute, chipping the ball over a diving Troy goalkeeper from 15 yards out with assists from Sammie Betters and Kristen Cardano for her first Gator goal to stake UF to a 1-0 lead.
Seiler, who scored the game-winner in Florida’s 1-0, overtime win Friday at Florida Atlantic, scored from 10 yards out in the 28th minute with assists from Tess Sapone and Briana Solis, who started the action with a corner kick, to make it 2-0, and Brittney Bennett, who was celebrating her birthday, made it 3-0 with just under 10 minutes left before halftime on a 20-yard, unassisted blast.
UF (2-0) added two more scores in the second half, the first in the opening five minutes on a header from Parker Roberts from five yards out, with Solis netting her second assist of the day, and Sapone closed the scoring with just 4:36 remaining, becoming the fourth player on the day to net her first UF career goal.
Troy feel to 0-2 with the loss.
“It was really exciting,” said Roberts, a transfer from Kansas who redshirted last season while competing with the U.S. Under-20 National Team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“I am so happy to be here. I would not want to be anywhere else. It’s an awesome feeling.”
As dominating as the Gators’ offense was, UF’s defense was absolutely suffocating. Florida finished the match with a 23-1 edge in shots and played the vast majority of the contest in Troy territory.
“We knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge today because of the weather, the turnaround, the travel and back-to-back games for the first time doing that, but I thought our team came out pretty strong at the very beginning,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “I think the two telling stats were the one shot on goal for them, and we keep a stat on throw-ins, and we won that 23-1. For us to keep our focus and effort throughout that 90 minutes was really impressive.”
The Gators played with “R&N” patches on their right sleeves in honor of Burleigh’s parents, Ron and Nancy, who both passed away earlier this year.
The competition ratchets up next weekend when UF hosts No. 2 Stanford at 5 p.m. Friday before facing off against Syracuse on Sunday night at 7.