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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

No. 1 North Carolina lived up to the hype, and then some.

The reigning national champs routed No. 4 Florida (0-1) 20-8 in the Gators’ season opener.

Florida struggled against UNC (1-0) in the first half, giving up six points and a total of 21 shots.

Redshirt senior goalkeeper Cara Canington proved to be an asset to the Gators in the first half, blocking 11 shots and only giving up six points.

Canington blocked 13 shots all together, but allowed a total of 12 points before she was taken out of goal with 13:24 left in the game and replaced with sophomore goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox.

“She [Canington] definitely kept us in this game for awhile,” coach Amanda O’Leary said.

However, while Florida fended well in goal, the Gators were not able to gain momentum in the first half after freshman Sammi Burgess put the Gators on the board.

Junior Shannon Gilroy put the ball in the cage 8 minutes later, leaving the Gators down 6-2 at the end of the half. Gilroy proceeded to score three more goals in the second half, giving her more than 100 career goals.

“We’re obviously a very young team, we have a lot to learn and I think this is a good starting point,” Gilroy said of the loss.

Florida came out in the second half to take the first draw control, but after a shaky start, the Gators started to cut the deficit. The Tar Heels rallied back after Florida cut the score to 10-5.

With 8:24 left in the game the Gators found some momentum and managed to put 8 points on the board before the end of the match.

The Tar Heels’ Sydney Holman and Abbey Friend each took five goals, leading the team with the highest scored points of the game.

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O’Leary said that the game would serve to teach the team what they needed to work on for the upcoming games, such as draw controls and turnovers.

“I think the things we need to take away from this are the things that we can control; the ground balls for instance, we got beat 24 to 12 on ground balls,” O’Leary said. “I think it’s needing to control the things that we can control.”

Follow Eden Otero on Twitter @edenotero_l

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