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Saturday, January 28, 2023

As midfielder Ameera Abdullah dribbled into the box on a muggy Saturday evening, she heard KeLeigh Hudson call her name and instinctively launched a cross to the senior. Hudson delivered a swift kick from 8 yards out that Texas A&M goalie Kristin Arnold couldn't keep up with, giving UF a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute.

That play was a microcosm of the game, as the Gators out-hustled the Aggies en route to a 3-1 exhibition victory.

"I think in the first 10 minutes, they took it to us a little bit, but then after that I felt like we settled down,"UF coach Becky Burleigh said. "After we settled down, it's just a matter of completing passes. When we complete passes, we're a very dangerous team."

Despite the wide-open offense the Gators displayed, the game wasn't pretty. After a physical scrimmage between the two in the spring, Saturday's game was more of the same. Everyone who entered the game seemed to hit the ground as UF and Texas A&M committed a combined 19 fouls.

UF's starters played limited minutes Saturday, as Burleigh opted to remove the first team at the start of the second half. Though the Gators will take the victory, Burleigh is more concerned with playing at a high level.

Goalkeeper Katie Fraine distinguished herself as the obvious choice to replace the departed Brittni Goodwin, and after the game Burleigh named Fraine the starter.

"I feel like it's my job, and it's my job to lose,C Fraine said. "I feel like as long as I play the way I know how to play, and play strong, then it's going to be my spot. But I also feel like Meghan (Berlingo) is going to be on my heels."

The Aggies' lone goal came against Berlingo in the 51st minute. Texas A&M forward Elisabeth Jones scored from 12 yards out, though it had more to do with defensive errors than Berlingo.

With the Gators leading 2-1 in the 80th minute, Alyshah Smith's goal from 7 yards out cemented a UF win.

"They came out hard," Fraine said. "They really wanted to win it. But not as much as us, obviously."

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