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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

All week Florida players spoke about finishing the chances they were creating. Friday night, the No.9 Gators (3-0) let their feet do the talking, scoring three goals in 10 minutes defeating Florida Atlantic 3-0 at James G. Pressly Stadium.

“It was our goal of the game [to score early],” forward McKenzie Barney said. “We knew if we scored early it would open the floodgates.”

Barney, the UF captain, put the first goal in the back of the net in the 4th minute on a beautiful connection play between three Gators. Freshman sensation Taylor Travis took on three defenders before laying the ball off to Tahnai Annis who back heeled the ball back to Travis who then slipped the ball through into Barney at the top of the six-yard box.

The goal was Barney’s second on the season, and she has now scored one in her last five home games.

Minutes later (7th minute) left fullback Nicky Kit found Annis, the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, at the back of the post for an easy header.

“I thought they showed a lot of maturity in our team to start out very quickly,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said.

“We knew this was going to be a tough team to break down defensively, but we also knew that the quickest way to do that was to get on the board early and we certainly did that.”

The Gators’ final goal came in the 14th minute from sophomore substitute Natalia Torosian, who ripped a shot at the top of the box only to have it blocked, but Torosian hustled for the ball and finished the rebound.

The Owls (0-2) were no strangers to being down three goals. FAU fought back from a 3-0 deficit last week against Stetson only to lose 4-3. The Gators were aware of that fact, but never let FAU back into the game. 

Burleigh nearly played her entire team, giving many young players their first opportunity to play this season.

“We have to think big picture,” she said. “It is a long season and we’re going to need a lot of people to play.”

The substitutions started early as Annis and freshman starter Caroline Triglia got injured and didn’t return due to preventative measures.

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In all 25 Gators saw action, as many of the starters were taken out early in the second half.

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