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Thursday, March 23, 2023

No travel plans are good travel plans for UF this season.

No. 11 Florida (10-4-2, 4-1-2 Southeastern Conference) continued its poor road play, tying Tennessee 2-2 Friday. Since winning the season opener at Miami, the Gators are 0-3-2 away from Gainesville.

The Volunteers (9-6-2, 3-2-2 SEC) controlled the pace for almost the whole game, but bookended surges from the Gators at the beginning and end of the game allowed Florida to at least walk off the pitch with one point.

In the 86th minute, freshman Erika Tymrak fed the ball to midfielder Tahnai Annis to the left of the goal. Annis was able to easily score, giving UF its second goal and tying the game.

"I knew that all I needed to do was get a foot at it to go in the goal," said Annis, who has four goals this season. "I basically just threw my body at the ball."

The Gators also looked good early, and a corner kick from senior Angela Napolitano to midfielder Holly King in the 13th minute gave the Gators an early lead.

But in between those goals, Tennessee outplayed Florida on the Volunteers' home field.

"We let them dictate the way that they wanted us to play," Annis said. "We didn't play our style of play for most of the game…. We just kept reacting to what they were doing and not taking initiative ourselves."

Annis said the Gators were not patient enough and, instead of working the ball up the field with a series of short passes, they booted the ball deep and tried to run it down too often.

Friday's game was one defender Lauren Hyde will want to forget. Hyde, a two-time member of the All-SEC team, had the ball stolen from her at the top of the Gators penalty box by Tennessee's Chelsea Hatcher.

Hatcher then beat Fraine to the keeper's left to tie the game in the 35th minute.

In the second half, Hyde tried to clear a Volunteers' corner kick but her header found Tennessee midfielder Julia Edwards unmarked at the top of the penalty box. Edward put the ball in off her left foot from 15 yards out to give Tennessee the lead.

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There were several collisions during the game, and Caitlin Howard, Jo Dragotta and Nicky Kit limped off the pitch at different points of the game.

"When you play against a direct team, you have to sometimes be direct as well," UF coach Becky Burleigh said. "Not in terms necessarily of the style you play, but in terms of going up to the battle."

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