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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Halted by torrential rain and spine-tingling lightning, the UF soccer team was forced to wait.

With only 29 minutes passed since the start of play, Saturday's thunderstorms forced both teams to head for shelter, leaving the Gators to mull over the first goal they had given up to No. 2 Notre Dame just six and a half minutes into the game.

After a delay of four hours and 32 minutes, the No. 13 Gators (1-1) came up empty in arguably the team's most anticipated contest and took a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Fighting Irish under the lights of James G. Pressley stadium.

The early delay did not appear to be a factor in the loss for the Gators, who returned from the break stronger and more relaxed.

"When we first started, I think we started a little on our heels and a little conservative," Goalkeeper Katie Fraine said. "After the rain delay, we came out, and I think we put them on their heels, started to attack and just be more aggressive."

UF outshot the Fighting Irish 11 to 4, becoming only the second team in the last 105 games to do so against Notre Dame.

Ten of these shots came after the delay, and they included a lot of near misses by the Gators.

In the middle of the action was midfielder KeLeigh Hudson, who spent the majority of her time slipping and sliding around the weathered field.

Hudson - who scored in the Gators' previous game - missed on both of her attempts, which included a close call on a cross from defender Shana Hudson. The senior made a sprawling attempt, but missed wide right - coming only several feet away from tying the game in the 59th minute.

"Obviously it's frustrating," KeLeigh said. "We don't like having no goals up there on the board, but there weren't many freebies that we missed, so that was good. We were trying to put a body part on it and put it in there, but it just didn't happen."

Notre Dame struck 11 minutes later, when defender Elise Weber made a run past the UF defense and converted on a pass from forward Kerri Hanks by launching the ball into the left corner of the net.

The Gators refused to give in and played at a feverish pace for the remainder of the game.

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UF coach Becky Burleigh expressed pride in the way her team handled the difficult loss.

"It was a physical match and we didn't back down," she said. "I think we were just unfortunate to come out on the losing end in this one."

The loss came after a 1-0 victory against Indiana in the team's season opener Friday night. The Gators withstood a late run from the Hoosiers to pull out the win at home. Hudson provided the game's only goal in the 12th minute.

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