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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

After their worst weekend of conference play, the Gators return home.

No. 13 Florida (10-2-2, 4-1-1 Southeastern Conference) hosts SEC rival Tennessee (6-6-1, 4-1-1 SEC) today at 5 p.m. and Georgia (8-2-4, 3-0-3 SEC) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

When the Gators ventured to Alabama last Friday they were coming off their best offensive performance of the season. But they had trouble finding the back of the net, finishing the weekend with only one goal.

“We were very unlucky (last week),” midfielder Sarah Chapman said. “We had a lot of chances in the Alabama game, but we know to keep the ball going and to push it forward and keep our intensity up.”

Although the Gators have had troubles scoring this season, the defense has been aggressive and resolute.

It allowed only a single goal in each game last weekend, and both were conceded in the final minute.

“It’s been in our head,” midfielder Holly King said. “From now on, it’s about staying focused in the last five minutes and not allowing those goals. Everyone on the team is sick of it.”

Now UF returns to James G. Pressly Stadium where it takes on a physical Volunteers squad with an identical SEC record.

“We have to do our job and our job only,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to focus on what we need to do in those situations, and if we can all do that then we can eliminate that problem. Sometimes it’s not about working harder, it’s about working smarter.”

This week in practice the Gators have been focusing on keeping possession and scoring early goals to take pressure off of their defense.

“Tennessee is very physical,” Chapman said. “We’re going to have to capitalize on hard tackles and win every ball in the air.”

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