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Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Ashley Harris and KeLeigh Hudson show continues for the Gators.

The pair entered the weekend as the No.9 UF soccer team's leading scorers, and following the Gators' 2-0 drubbing of Drake on Sunday, they return to Gainesville with the same title.

Harris, whose adjustment to playing forward has been nothing short of smooth, scored UF?s first goal of the match off of an 8-yard cross from Hudson in the 57th minute.

BStacy (Bishop) was getting across and KeLeigh was cutting in. I wasn?t sure if she was going to get to it or not, so I just came in when I saw the defender and hit it to the corner,C said Harris, who leads the Gators with four goals. BI was just looking at the goal. I knew we needed to score.C

Harris? solid play continues to justify Coach Becky Burleigh?s unexpected decision to shift the senior from defense to the forward position for the first time in her collegiate career. And with midfielder Ameera Abdullah?s injury, Harris? play has been even more valuable.

BShe?s an important part of our team,C Burleigh said. BShe continues to put us into good positions with her speed, and the goal she scored just came off a great pass by KeLeigh. She?s just giving us a great spark.C

After a lethargic first half that followed an equally lethargic 1-0 loss to Illinois on Friday night, the Gators (4-2) were looking to bounce back and return to the style of play that has made them successful.

UF?s passing Saturday and during the first half of Sunday?s game was woeful compared to the team?s previous play. UF took just five shots on goal against Illinois and three in the first half against Drake.

BIt was disappointing not getting any goals and not winning,C Hudson said. BWe just had to get back to playing our game. We got away from it a little bit, but in the second half we got back to passing and moving the ball the way we?re capable of, stringing some passes together and we put something together.C

Burleigh emphasized UF?s need to improve its passing as the team entered the half against Drake, and the Gators took notice.

After attempting just three shots in the first half, UF attempted six shots in the first 10 minutes of the second. Hudson scored the second goal of the match on a cross from defender Tricia Townsend from 10 yards out.

BTricia crossed a great ball, left-footed,C Hudson said. BI saw that I had time, so I brought it down with my chest and hit it to the far post left-footed.C

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With Abdullah still out with a strained left peroneal and defender Melanie Booth overseas with the Canadian national team, Burleigh is pleased with the intensity the team brought with them against Drake.

BDrake played a good, physical brand of soccer,C Burleigh said. BIt wasn?t easy for us to come out with a 2-0 win, and you have to give credit to Drake for that.C

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