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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

For the UF soccer team, the arrival of Southeastern Conference play means one thing: It's time to move on.

After a rocky start to a season filled with high expectations, the No. 15 Gators (4-2-2) are looking to forget their troubles and start anew.

BWe?re really taking the mentality that this is a new season, a new start for us,C goalkeeper Katie Fraine said. BWe think that it will give us a chance to start over and give us a new step on things.C

The Gators struggled since defeating then-No.9 Florida State 2-1 early on.

Following the emotional victory, the team won only one of four games, which included two ties to unranked teams, among them Florida Atlantic.

At the heart of the problem has been offensive struggles, which resulted in a mere 10 goals in eight games.

The early-season scoring output is the team?s worst since 2002, when the Gators finished 10-10-2 and ended their streak of six consecutive SEC titles and missing the NCAA tournament altogether.

Senior forward Ashley Harris knows now is the time to turn things around, and the time for excuses is over.

BThere?s no more surprises,C Harris said. BWe?ve played against all types of teams, all types of weather, all types of grass and now it?s time to win and put it in the back of the net.

BAs long as we don?t get scored on, we know the goals will come.C

The Gators will get their chance to turn things around tonight, when the team heads to Athens, Ga., to take on the rival Bulldogs (7-1).

If the past is any indication of what?s to come, this might be a good place to start, as the team is 16-0-1 all time against Georgia.

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The Gators went 7-1-3 in SEC play last season, but UF coach Becky Burleigh plans to focus on the future.

BIt?s the SEC, it?s a whole new season,C Burleigh said. BEveryone is 0-0. … All the games in the SEC are rivalry games and they mean a little more.C

The Gators? lone loss in conference play last year came to Tennessee, Sunday?s opponent.

The No. 10 Volunteers (5-1-1) handed the Gators a 2-1 loss in Gainesville.

The game represents a sore spot for Burleigh, who remembers the heated matchup well.

BI don?t know if the players remember, but I definitely do,C Burleigh said. BI always want to beat Tennessee.C

The team will likely receive a boost from defender Melanie Booth, who returned to the lineup Sunday at Nebraska.

The redshirt senior returned from the World Cup, where she competed for Canada, to play limited minutes in a 1-1 tie to the Cornhuskers.

Junior Ameera Abdullah is likely to see more playing time as well.

Abdullah is working her way back from an ankle injury suffered against South Florida on Sept. 7.

U.S. BOWS OUT OF WORLD CUP: The way Brazil and sensational striker Marta played, it didn?t matter who was in goal for the United States.

Marta scored two goals and the Brazilians put on a dazzling display of soccer Thursday, outhustling the Americans at nearly every turn to cruise to a 4-0 victory in the Women?s World Cup semifinals.

The Brazilians will play in their first final Sunday against defending champion Germany.

BIf you asked me how I do that, I can?t explain,C Marta said, even after watching TV replays of her goals. BThings happen very quickly during the match, and afterward I start thinking: 'How do I do that??C

That?s what American goalie Hope Solo was asking. Angry she was replaced for the critical game in favor of veteran Briana Scurry, Solo lashed out at U.S. coach Greg Ryan.

BIt was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that,C Solo said. BThere?s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. … You have to live in the present. And you can?t live by big names. You can?t live in the past.C

The U.S. will play Norway for third place Sunday.

BIt?s a hard loss to swallow,C said American striker Abby Wambach, a former UF standout. BMore than anything it?s just heartbreaking, it?s hard to go down like this.C

- Associated Press

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