The Gators are looking for consistency.
They have found it in spurts but want it for all 60 minutes each and every match.
Florida improved its record against top-20 opponents to 5-2 with a 13-12 overtime win against Johns Hopkins on Saturday. But in all but one of those games, the Gators have either fallen behind by at least two goals in the first 10 minutes or had at least a 15-minute scoring drought at some point in the contest.
With matchups against American Lacrosse Conference rivals No. 17 Vanderbilt and top-ranked Northwestern remaining on the schedule, coach Amanda O’Leary said her team cannot afford to dig itself any holes.
“I don’t think it’s something we want to get ourselves into,” O’Leary said of falling behind by two goals. “Because the next two games, I’m not so sure we’re going to be able to pull ourselves out of those deficits.”
Junior attacker Gabi Wiegand, the team’s leading scorer, said the Gators can’t let falling behind take them out of their offensive gameplan.
“A lot of it has to do with patience and making sure we aren’t rushing things,” Wiegand said. “It’s pretty common that when teams get down they get in a panic mode. We need to take our time and work for the shot that’s going to be 100 percent.”
Johns Hopkins jumped out to a 3-1 lead on Saturday and also went on a 6-1 run in the second half to take an 11-10 lead. O’Leary said the defenders need to improve on executing their double teams to prevent such runs.
“Ultimately, we have to do a much better job when they’re coming at us hard 1v1, slowing the ball down and making sure we have that first and second slide,” O’Leary said.
Freshman defender Sally Jentis, who replaced junior Emily Dohony after she suffered a head injury midway through the second half against Johns Hopkins, caused a game-changing turnover to give the Gators the winning possession in the second overtime. But she was also in for the Blue Jays’ 6-1 run and said the defense needed to do a better job of covering the open player after a double team, noting that the opposition often likes to send players on backdoor cuts.
“We should have realized when they were going to drive and when they were trying to draw the double,” Jentis said.
Johns Hopkins attacker Taylor D’Amore continuously drove on the Gators’ defense and was able to dish the ball to another open attacker because of the attention she drew, finishing with a game-high five assists. Jentis said it is on the defense to shift away from only the attacker farthest from the net in those situations and not leave anyone open.
She also said it is important for the defense to not be to hard on themselves when the opposition finds the back of the net.
“Once they score a bunch, you just kind of get down,” Jentis said. “A lot of it is when they do score to keep yourself up and not let it happen again.”