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Thursday, June 01, 2023

It was a perfect play that won the Gators a game over their biggest rival, but it was a play McKenzie Barney does not want to be in the position to make again tonight.

The junior midfielder scored the game-winning goal last season just 15 seconds into overtime off a cross from Nicky Kit as Florida defeated Florida State, in Tallahassee, 2-1.

The No. 9 Gators (4-1) host the No. 5 Seminoles (5-1) tonight in Pressley Stadium as they continue a rivalry where nail-biters are the norm.  The last five games between the two teams have each been decided by one goal, with the last two going to overtime.

While last season’s overtime match ended in a thrilling win for the Gators, Barney says she would rather her team not be in a position that requires late-game heroics this time around.

“We try to prepare for certain scenarios that could happen, and if it does we have been through it before in past years, but hopefully it doesn’t come to that,” Barney said.

The reason overtime was necessary in the 2010 game was because the Gators allowed the Seminoles to tie the game at 1-1 in the 89th minute on a header by senior forward Janice Cayman.

After taking the lead in the 62nd minute on a goal from Erika Tymrak, Florida stopped pressuring and it led to several Florida State chances before it finally converted.

Despite winning their home opener last Friday against Texas Tech 3-0, coach Becky Burleigh saw similar complacency issues with her team in the win.

“I just don’t think we were that sharp,” Burleigh said following the win.  “I thought we took our foot off the gas a little bit.”

After taking a 3-0 lead against the Red Raiders on a goal from Tymrak in the 67th minute, the Gators managed only four more shots, none of which were on goal.

While Florida still won handily against Texas Tech despite a lack of intensity in the later minutes, it is something the team believes it cannot allow to happen against an opponent of Florida State's caliber.

Tymrak, who earned Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for scoring two goals and an assist in the Texas Tech game, said regardless of the score,  her team should be playing a high-press style.

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“Next time that situation happens we have to keep reminding ourselves, ‘Pick it up, pick it up,’” Tymrak said.  “You kind of look at it as its not 3-0, its 0-0 and you have to have that mentality.”

The Gators’ bench can also play.

Burleigh said she expects strong bench play to help prevent any late-game lapses as well.  She also believes a big crowd tonight could give her team a push.

“I don’t think fans realize how much that helps us.” Burleigh said. “It really is a big boost to our team morale just having everybody behind us and seeing packed stands”

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