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Saturday, May 18, 2024
<p>Nora Barry runs toward the net during Florida's loss to North Carolina.</p>

Nora Barry runs toward the net during Florida's loss to North Carolina.

Florida’s opening day loss is a thing of the past for the Gators, even if it was just a week ago.

Since Florida fell to North Carolina on Feb. 7, the Gators have bounced back with a vengeance. They had something to prove.

No. 4 Florida (2-1) took care of business this weekend against Michigan (0-1) in a convincing 21-0 shutout of the Wolverines.

It was the second shutout in program history for the Gators, the first coming in 2012 with a 29-0 win over Fresno State.

Senior Shannon Gilroy, Florida’s leading goal scorer heading into the game, missed practice late in the week due to an illness but started in Saturday’s match and won a team-high six draw controls.

She saw limited playing time because of her health, but fortunately for the Gators, her teammates were more than able to make up for her absence.

Twelve different players recorded a goal against Michigan, scoring on 21 of 32 shot attempts.

Freshman Bella O’Connor, sophomore Sammi Burgess and senior Nora Barry each had three goals apiece.

For O’Connor, they were the first three goals of her Florida career. For Barry, they were the 99th, 100th and 101st of her career, becoming just the fifth player in Florida history to reach the 100-goal milestone.

Saturday’s win was an opportunity for the Gators to utilize their bench, which is as deep as any coach could ask for. Those players got a chance to take advantage of valuable minutes, which coach Amanda O’Leary said they handled very well.

"I think we were just looking for (the bench players) to maintain the same type of play that our first team is playing with," O’Leary said. "They’re equally as good, they have the talent, it’s just they didn’t have the experience being on the field. I thought they competed really hard and there was very little drop off from that first group to when we went deep into our bench."

That deep bench includes freshman goalkeeper Olivia Cole, who played the entire second half in the cage.

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Starting junior goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox officially earned the win, but the two split the shutout and made four saves each.

Saturday’s big win could get the ball rolling for the Gators as the season starts to pick up and Florida’s competition improves.

If anything, Wilcox said, it will help the team’s confidence.

"It was nice having all the freshmen and everyone off the line in the game and just seeing what everyone can do as a whole, so it was good," Wilcox said.

 Follow Alex Maminakis on Twitter @alexmaminakis

Nora Barry runs toward the net during Florida's loss to North Carolina.

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