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Thursday, February 22, 2024

For the Gators, creating scoring opportunities wasn’t a problem in their first weekend.

Finishing off those chances was a different story, and No. 9 Florida (2-0-0) has been hard at work this week making sure it doesn’t become an issue that plagues the team for the rest of the 2010 campaign.

In two games, the Gators scored four goals. They took 34 shots, squandering numerous opportunities with only 13 shots on frame.

“Our goal is to finish one in every seven opportunities,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “Right now we’re at one in every 11, so we’ve got some work to do.”

The Gators have assembled a young, menacing attack with playmakers at  every position, but sometimes their youth has shown. Sophomore attacking midfielder Erika Tymrak leads a talented group of creative players that can run at people and challenge defenders.

Tymrak, along with forwards McKenzie Barney and Taylor Travis have created plenty of goal-scoring possibilities, but often the Gators failed to capitalize due to a poor shot or lack of patience.

While the beautiful connection plays that have resulted in goals stand out, the missed opportunities are just as glaring.

The Gators have taken nine more shots than their opponents, and earned 12 corner kicks. But they have turned only one of the free kicks into a scoring chance and have rushed plays despite defenses dropping back.

“We’re going to run in the situations constantly where teams are going to sit back on us,” keeper Katie Fraine said. “We just need to figure out that riddle. We just have to be patient.”

After studying film of their games against Miami and UCF, the Gators took note of the chances left on the field and have worked hard this week addressing the issue.

“We’re our toughest critics,” Tymrak said. “As time goes on we’ll finish our chances. I just think most importantly we are connecting and creating them.”

Tymrak was also quick to say nerves played a part in the first couple of games.

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“We were a little jittery,” Tymrak said. “It’s going to improve.”

Many of the forwards and attacking midfielders have been some of the first to arrive at practice this week, concentrating on finishing and shooting. Associate head coach Vic Campbell has worked individually with several of the players.

The Gators hope to get junior forward Lindsay Thompson, the team’s top goal scorer last season, on track. The gifted striker has taken six shots in the two games, but has failed to put one in the net.

“Lindsay has one of the best shots on the team,” Tymrak said. “She’ll come through.”

Despite the missed opportunities, Burleigh is pleased with the direction and approach the team is taking. Burleigh echoed Tymrak’s sentiment that it is a positive indication of the Gators’ ability to create chances.

“It’s a really good sign,” she said. “More so than in the past. Now it is just a matter of finishing them.”

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