The San Francisco Bay separates St. Mary’s College and Stanford University from each other.
The level of talent between the two teams covers a much greater distance.
The gap between Florida’s two Californian opponents was evident this past weekend, when UF swept St. Mary’s on Saturday and then found themselves on the wrong side of a Stanford sweep the following day.
The No. 5 Gators (8-2) were held scoreless in Sunday’s rivalry matchup against the No. 3 Cardinal (7-0), losing 7-0 in their first match against a top-five opponent.
“Stanford really took it to us and all credit goes to them,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “It was over after 20 minutes of singles. I’m at a loss.”
The day began with more inconsistent play on the doubles courts as Florida lost both doubles matches for the third time in its last five dual matches. After falling behind early, a comeback was unlikely. The Gators are 1-2 this season when losing the doubles point.
Sofie Oyen and Belinda Woolcock fell 8-5, and Olivia Janowicz and Stefani Stojic lost 8-1 to cede the match’s first point to the highly touted Stanford group.
The defending NCAA champions remained aggressive as they grabbed each of the three necessary singles points in straight sets to crush Florida’s comeback hopes.
The Cardinal’s Carol Zhao put her team ahead 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Brianna Morgan. The Gators’ Oyen and Alexandra Cercone were the next to fall, losing 6-2, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-4 respectively to give Stanford a 4-0 lead and the match.
Stanford’s next point came when No. 5 ranked Kristie Ahn outlasted a comeback bid from Janowicz with a 6-2, 7-5 victory.
The deficit grew to six when Kourtney Keegan lost 6-3, 7-6. Woolcock was the only Florida player to reach a third set, but she eventually folded under a 6-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-9) loss to end the match.
UF’s weekend matches were polar opposites of each other. The loss to Stanford came a day after Florida’s 4-0 win over St. Mary’s on the same courts, in which each Gator won in straight sets during the blowout. On Sunday, all but one player was defeated in straight sets, as Florida was held scoreless for the first time all season.
“Stanford is a great team and they certainly played well enough to earn the win,” Thornqvist said.
“We have a lot to work on after today’s match and it will make us stronger as a result.”
Follow Ian Cohen on Twitter @ibcohen5