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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Gators coach Amanda O’Leary wanted her players to be smart offensively on Wednesday.

Following Sunday’s loss to Syracuse, O’Leary wanted Florida to work on what she thought were too many impatient possessions.

Gabi Wiegand and Kitty Cullen made the necessary adjustments.

Cullen set up Wiegand for three of her four second-half goals to help No. 5 Florida defeat No. 15 Georgetown, 12-9, on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Cullen assisted on three of Wiegand’s goals, and it was the first time since UF’s first game in 2010, a 16-6 win over Jacksonville, that one Gator had assisted the same teammate three times in the a game.

“It was a testament to Kitty’s play,” O’Leary said. “The fact that she was not forcing her shots. She was seeing she was in a double team and she had enough composure and poise to be able to find the free player.”

With the Gators leading 7-5 less than a minute into the second half, Cullen dumped a pass off just outside the crease to Wiegand who put it past Hoyas goalkeeper Barb Black.

Just over two minutes later, Georgetown’s Caroline Tarzian scored to cut the lead to two.

But at the 21:34 mark, Wiegand scored again to make it 9-6 after Cullen got it to her following a successful UF clearance.

Cullen then assisted on Wiegand goal in the 46th minute to put Florida up 10-7. It was the last of Wiegand’s five goals, which she scored on five shots.

Wiegand, who connected on just two of her seven shots in the loss to Syracuse on Saturday, said she made an effort to improve her shot selection in practice leading up to the Georgetown game.

“Being an attacker, you should have a good shooting percentage,” Wiegand said. “I think I took a lot of dumb shots [against Syracuse]…In practice, the coaches helped me a lot. They kept telling me, ‘one goal at a time,’ so it was really just focusing on that one shot I was taking and making that I was faking the goalie and placing my shot.”

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In the first half, the Gators scored the game’s first three goals in the first five minutes with the first coming at the 26:34 mark. Then, the Hoyas scored four straight goals to take the lead while holding UF goalless for more than 16 minutes.

During that stretch, Georgetown played an aggressive defense in which it double-teamed whichever Florida player had the ball.

“I think at first we kind of got panicked and frazzled a little bit because we didn’t see it coming,” Wiegand said. “So I think once we adjusted and moved the ball really quickly we were able to hit the backside and find the open girl and shoot and score.”

After Tarzian cut Florida’s lead to 6-5 with 2:51 remaining in the first half, Cullen responded 27 seconds later when she evaded a defender with a spin move and fired a shot past Black. Georgetown was unable to pull within a goal for the remainder of the game.

“Any time you can put a goal up prior to going into the half I think that’s huge,” O’Leary said. “Kitty is dynamic and she can make those things happen for our team.”

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