Having a “hot hand” or being “on fire” is not actually a thing. The same goes for being cold or in a slump.
Being able to score multiple times in a row is talent. Missing shots multiple times in multiple games is the struggle to tap into that talent.
This season, Florida’s offensive success has been largely due to the team’s ability to access that talent across the board and have 10 or 11 scorers in each game.
However, since Florida (14-2, 5-0 American Lacrosse Conference) faced Penn State on March 30, its offense has floundered.
Scorers such as freshmen Sammi Burgess and Mollie Stevens and junior Shannon Gilroy have been essential to the team’s success.
Having those supporting scorers for Burgess, Stevens and Gilroy — like sophomores Devon Schneider and Carly Ross — has been an even bigger piece to the offense’s puzzle.
Coming into the season, many expected Gilroy and junior teammate Nora Barry would carry the team in goals and assists. Instead, Burgess has been Gilroy’s go-to player when she is being face-guarded or triple-teamed.
But Burgess has faltered lately.
As one of Florida’s biggest scorers behind Gilroy, the freshman’s difficulty connecting with the net forced her teammates to step up when she couldn’t make it happen.
Heading into Florida’s match against Vanderbilt on Sunday, Burgess worked hard on refining her accuracy and completing her shots. The Forest Hill, Md., native went as far as upgrading to a longer stick.
“I shot a lot after practice last week, just because, you know, they weren’t falling for me,” Burgess said. “But I actually have a longer stick now. I’m just thinking a little less when I play.”
It seems that with the adjustments since the Penn State game, she has returned to the Burgess that Florida fans know and missed.
Against the Commodores, Burgess was the leading scorer with a total of four goals and one assist. Two of her goals came on back-to-back scores in the first half.
After putting no points on the board for the Gators against the Nittany Lions and Blue Jays, Burgess felt that it was a relief to finally get back to her old style of play.
“That little change was like, you know, it’s something, give me something,” Burgess said. “I think it helped me to get around defenders with my stick more and get a little bit more power behind the ball with my shots.”
Not only was Burgess’ performance on Sunday a career-high goal mark, but it was also enough to make the freshman the ALC Rookie of the Week — a title that she has received two other times this season.
Burgess’ scoring issues weren’t a concern for coach Amanda O’Leary. Her work on shooting in the last two weeks is all a part of helping the freshman grow.
“We challenge Sammi to get better,” O’Leary said. “She had struggled a little bit. She put in some extra work this week. Her mental state was one that she was going to go out and have fun. Sammi’s her harshest critic. She makes a mistake and it’s world ending. It’s one thing we’ve worked on her with.”
Follow Eden Otero on Twitter @edenotero_l
Sammi Burgess attempts a shot during Florida's 18-7 win against High Point on Feb. 15 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Burgess, the ALC Rookie of the Week, scored a career-high four goals against Vanderbilt on Sunday.