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Thursday, September 28, 2023

The No. 7 Gators (7-1-1, 0-1) opened up Southeastern Conference competition on a rainy Friday night as they beat Kentucky (6-3, 0-1) 2-0 in Lexington, Ky.

In the last two matchups between Kentucky and Florida, the Gators emerged victorious in overtime, but Florida kept this match out of the Wildcats’ reach from the first minute of the game

“To get a shutout on the road in some not-so-perfect conditions, I’ll take it,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said.

Burleigh learned in last weekend’s Duke Nike Classic that when the Gators don’t come out and dictate the flow of the game, they get off to a rough start.

“I thought we did a better job of keeping possession when the game was in hand,” Burleigh said. “Because when we have the ball, the other team is chasing and becomes tiresome and that’s something we can do on a regular basis.”

The Gators started Friday off exactly how Burleigh wanted them too. Florida outshot Kentucky 8-3 in the first half, and although the Gators didn’t put in a goal, they made good opportunities by playing consistent team defense and keeping their composure on offense.

“It was very important (to start off aggressively) because we’re back to 0-0,” Burleigh said. “The SEC is a brand new season and I was very happy to get the shutout on the road.”

Florida continued its aggressive play and scored the game’s first goal in the second minute of the second half.

Midfielder Erika Tymrak put in her second goal of the season off an assist from midfielder Tahnai Annis that led to a one-on-one situation for Tymrak, who capitalized and put the ball in the back of the net.

“We need to make sure that we finish chances,” Burleigh said. “We had several opportunities that were very good chances and we need to be more efficient with that.”

The Gators’ quick play in the second half kept them in control the entire game. UF only let Kentucky get one shot on goal in the second half.

Annis put in the game’s second goal – her fifth of the season – by heading in a rebound at the 80-minute mark.

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Florida now travels to Vanderbilt for its next game, hoping to remain undefeated in SEC play.

“Going into Vanderbilt, we need to continue to keep possession like we did tonight,” Burleigh said. “We need to make sure we finish.”

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