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Friday, April 12, 2024

Florida beat its first conference opponent — then-No. 14 Penn State — at home two weeks ago, but when No. 8 Vanderbilt comes to Gainesville this weekend, UF will need its home-field advantage once again if it is to get another American Lacrosse Conference win.

UF (9-5, 1-2 ALC) took down Penn State, 13-11, in a clean and competitive match on April 3. The Gators, 7-1 at home, charged ahead in the second half after being tied at the break to grab the victory.

However, against Vanderbilt (10-3, 3-0 ALC), UF will need to play a nearly flawless game.

The Commodores will be ready to add the Gators as another notch in their current nine-game winning streak. They lost their first two games of the season, but have won 10 of the last 11.

“They are a fantastic team,” UF coach Amanda O’Leary said. “They have a lot of upperclassmen. I don’t think they start any freshmen. They are a talented team, they are an experienced team, and they have great stick skills, so we’re trying to find the Achilles’ heel of Vanderbilt.”

The Commodores don’t have a fatal flaw for opponents to capitalize on as they average about 15 goals per game, allow opponents to score just fewer than 11 goals and hold teams to a .399 shooting percentage.

The challenge for Florida will be to contain Vandy’s multiple threats and prevent the Commodores’ offense from being the deciding factor in the game. They have four players who have scored 30 or more goals already this season and another four players with double-digit goals.

O’Leary said the Commodores have quality players but are also beatable.

However, UF must focus on its play rather than its opponent’s game, and it must also finish its shots and take advantage of opportunities.

Freshman Caroline Chesterman said the Gators will take advantage of the game’s location on Sunday as it battles for a second ALC win.

“We’ve only lost one game at home so far, against Georgetown, and even then, we played really well,” Chesterman said. “There’s something about playing here in front of our friends and family that we usually come out really hyped and ready to go, so hopefully we do the same thing against Vandy.”

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