The Gators made it a point to come out of homecoming and captain Ashlee Elliott’s 22nd birthday, and improve on what they failed to accomplish last weekend and score goals early.
Florida (11-2-2, 5-1-1) defeated Tennessee (7-7-1, 4-2-1) 4-2 on Friday, extending its home winning streak to seven games.
The Gators came out a little sluggish on Friday. They started off playing quick pass-and-go soccer, but had a hard time getting the ball out of the midfield into the attack, and didn’t record a shot until 16 minutes into the first half.
“We didn’t start strong, but we didn’t panic,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We were able to weather that, and it was a good learning curve for our team because it shows us we can have a rough patch and not panic from it.”
Once Florida was got its first shot, the beast was let out of its cage.
The elevated footwork of midfielder Erika Tymrak started the attack, which led to midfielder Tahnai Annis volleying in the first goal of the game off a beautiful cross from defender Jazmyne Avant.
UF wasted no time in attacking the goal, scoring its second goal of the game just two minutes later off a Erika Tymrak cross to Lindsey Thompson.
Just three minutes later, Florida added its third goal and Thompson’s second of the game off a rebound from a corner kick, capping off a seven-minute offensive melee.
“At the beginning of the game we were a little shaky and nervous,” Tymrak said. “McKenzie (Barney) told us to calm down because we weren’t connecting well. So we started playing our game and once we did that we got our chances to finish and we did.”
Annis and UT forward Chelsea Hatcher both also had multi-goal performances on Friday.
The Volunteers started out the game pressing the Gators defense and did well keeping them on their toes. But Tennessee was never able to capitalize on some of the sloppy passing displayed by Florida.
However, while the birthday girl, Elliott, and fellow center-back Kathryn Williams had numerous unforced errors in the back, they both did a good job communicating, recovering and not letting their mistakes be converted into Tennessee goals – especially in the first half.
“We always know to stay composed,” Elliott said. “When we don’t stay composed the rest of the team gets really hectic. Once we got our goals we were able to calm down, and we ended up doing a really goo job.”
Florida now has its mind set on beating Georgia on Sunday.
“We’re definitely confident (going into Georgia),” Tymrak said. “We are definitely improving on our finishing but we need to go into the next game and play hard and make sure we get the win.”