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Thursday, February 22, 2024

A big question concerning the Gators coming into their match against Indiana on Friday was how they would replace senior scoring threat Ashlee Elliott.

After more than 114 minutes of play Friday, that question remains unanswered.

The No. 6 Gators (3-1-0) failed to even record a shot on goal during the game, and a golden goal from Leigh Anne Cummings in the second overtime gave Indiana (4-0-0) a 2-1 win.

UF entered the game as the better team, and it left the game with the same sentiment.

"Honestly, I don't think they were very effective," keeper Katie Fraine said of the Hoosiers attack.

Fraine said Indiana's offensive strategy was to bomb the ball down to UF's side of the field and hope one of the Hoosiers' forwards could get a lucky one-on-one chance.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the Gators' poor performance was the officiating. UF was called for 26 fouls, and seniors Lauren Hyde and Jessica Eicken were each given yellow cards.

By contrast, the Hoosiers committed 13 fouls Friday.

"I really don't think (the game) was that physical. It's just the way it was officiated. I can't really make comments on the officials," UF coach Becky Burleigh said.

In the team's first three games, the Gators committed 29 total fouls.

Burleigh conceded that UF's inability to connect on passes was the biggest factor for its poor performance but added that the pace of the game was slowed by the officials.

"I think that when there's 30, 40 something fouls in the game, that's a lot of whistle blowing and it disrupts the game a little bit," Burleigh said.

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Regardless of the reason, the most glaring stat for UF is 0 - the number of shots on goal it recorded.

Burleigh started midfielder Tahnai Annis for the first time this season Friday, saying she was the best player coming off the bench for the Gators when Elliott was in the starting lineup.

Annis seemed to be a pivotal part of UF's attack, but the team was always one pass away from having a good opportunity.

"I don't think we created that many chances, and we are a better team than that. It was disappointing overall the way we played today," Burleigh said.

On the other side of the field, Indiana was the first team to truly test Fraine this year.

The Hoosiers scored their first goal in the 58nd minute on a free kick. Chloe McKay sent the ball into the middle of the box from 35 yards out, where it was headed in by Devon Beach.

In the minutes following Indiana's goal, UF appeared to turn its sluggish performance around. Freshman Erika Tymrak challenged Indiana's defense and put them on its heels, but she still couldn't put the ball on net.

UF's only goal came in the 62nd minute when Angela Napolitano centered the ball into the Hoosiers' box. The Hoosiers Kerri Krawczak tried to clear the ball, but she hit it toward keeper Lindsay Campbell. Campbell mishandled the ball, and it went passed her for an own goal.

The goal ended Campbell's scoreless streak, which reached back to November and spanned more than 550 minutes.

UF's offense had a few more opportunities, but it failed to capitalize, leaving the players frustrated.

"When we come out poorly, any team can have an opportunity against us. When we come out well, I don't think there will be anybody that can stop us," Fraine said. "Today, we just did not come out strong."

The Gators will have little time to think about the loss as they take on No. 9 UCLA on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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