Just over a month ago, the No. 10 Florida lacrosse team was without Mollie Stevens when it played the U.S. National Team.
She was wearing the opposition’s jersey.
In a game that was deadlocked at 5-5 by halftime, the national team was able to pull away in the final 30 minutes of play to win 19-8, with Stevens scoring one of the 12 second-half goals for the U.S.
However, the junior midfielder will be wearing the same jersey as the rest of her collegiate teammates Thursday when the Gators play the Wales National Team at Donald R. Dizney Stadium at 4 p.m.
Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said that the Wales coach, who is a good friend of the UF coach, called her to set up a game since the national team is going to be in the state of Florida.
The Welsh side has played and lost two matches this week, first 14-5 to Jacksonville on Monday and then 20-4 to Tampa on Wednesday.
Thursday’s game looks to be the toughest for Wales during its state tour.
The Gators started off the season with a convincing win over then-No. 13 Loyola 15-6 and then won their second game in resilient fashion, coming back from a deficit to defeat Michigan 12-11.
O’Leary said there are some new schemes that she wants to put in place and feels that doing so in a non-intrasquad practice will be beneficial.
"As many games as we can get in would be good for our program," O’Leary said.
The hiatus from the regular season schedule will be the last the Gators will get all season.
After Thursday’s match, Florida will begin a monthlong stretch that includes four opponents ranked in the nation’s top 10.
UF will play No. 2 North Carolina on Thursday, followed by No. 3 Syracuse, No. 8 Stony Brook and top-ranked Maryland.
One week after the Maryland game, the Gators will start their Big East schedule against Vanderbilt at home on March 26.
Despite the daunting road, O’Leary and her team are focusing on what is next — a match against a tough opposing side in the Wales National Team.
"It’s going to be a great test for us," O’Leary said.
"And one that I am certainly looking forward to."