The Florida soccer team is on an offensive tear.
The Gators are coming off a week where they scored early and often, taking down SEC foes Missouri and Vanderbilt in the process.
“I think it means a lot in terms of confidence,” junior midfielder Sarah Troccoli said. “We lost to Texas A&M and we’ve slowly been building back up from then. So it gives us good momentum going forward.”
Since UF’s lone conference loss to the Aggies, the team has strung together a four-game win streak and held a positive differential of 10 goals. Florida has scored first in all four games as well, with its opening goals against Missouri and Vanderbilt coming inside the first 15 minutes.
And when they score first, the Gators have been particularly effective. They’re 9-0 in matches when they’ve scored first. On five occasions, that goal has come in the first 15 minutes.
“When you score early it just kind of makes the game a different tenor,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “It gives you confidence, and when it happens you get really appreciative of it.”
When Burleigh’s team scores an early goal, it usually means more are on the way.
In matches where it opens the scoring inside of 15 minutes, Florida has outscored its opponents 13-2. And a big part of this dominance is the performance of freshman forward Deanne Rose.
Rose has been a strong presence in the UF attack all season, leading the team in goals (8), points (18), shots (39) and shots on goal (21). The freshman has also been the first name on the score sheet on three occasions this season, twice scoring in the opening 15 minutes.
While Rose has stood out on offense since the start of the season, she has been especially effective since mid-September.
In UF's past six games, Rose has scored seven goals and recorded one assist. And she’s been efficient to go along with her shooting volume, putting 15 of her 23 shots on target over that span.
“Deanne has been creating these opportunities all season, and now she’s putting those away,” Burleigh said. “I think we’re doing a better job of playing with her, she’s doing a better job of playing with us.”
Rose and the No. 10 Gators (11-2, 5-1 SEC) look to continue their strong play at home on Thursday against a tough, non-conference opponent in the middle of its SEC slate, No. 16 Florida State.
The match was rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma, which may prove advantageous for the surging Gators.
“It’s a little odd to have a nonconference game in the schedule, but it’s better than losing this game to a hurricane two years in a row,” Burleigh said. “It always has national interests because of the quality of the two teams involved. So I think both teams appreciate getting this game back on the schedule.”
You can follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr, and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.