Different year, same result. In 2014, Florida opened its regular season with a game against North Carolina and was humbled by a 20-8 loss. On Saturday, the No. 4 Gators (0-1) hosted the No. 2 Tar Heels (2-0) in Florida’s regular season opener and fell 17-11.
The two seasons have that in common so far, but what Florida hopes happens again in 2015 as it did last year is that the Gators will learn from their mistakes and enjoy a successful season. Florida lost only one other game last year during the regular season following the loss in Chapel Hill.
The Gators will need to make adjustments quickly as they travel to Jacksonville University on Wednesday night to face the Dolphins. Coach Amanda O’Leary knows what Florida needs to fix from Saturday’s loss and she is confident that the team will work hard to make those changes.
"We need to get better from this game and I think we will. That’s the one thing about this team is they have a tremendous work ethic, they want to win games," O’Leary said.
"I think there’s a lot of things that we’re gonna learn from this film that we can change and have immediate impact in our next game."
Nora Barry and Sammi Burgess are two players who the Gators would like to make big impacts as the season progresses.
Barry, a senior, has started in all 65 of her games as a Gator. She had 30 goals and 10 assists last year, but on Saturday she recorded only one shot. Burgess, just a sophomore, had a breakout freshman year. She made 20 starts at attack and recorded 38 goals and 15 assists, but against UNC she had just one assist and one shot.
O’Leary agreed that the team needs better outputs from Barry and Burgess in order to be successful, whether it be scoring and assisting or movements without the ball in their sticks.
"We need a core group," O’Leary said. "We have a lot of depth which is great for us but we need to get some points generating from that group."
Once Florida begins to find its groove again and its offense starts clicking, as O’Leary expects it will, the Gators should have no problem returning to their winning ways. Shannon Gilroy, Nicole Graziano and Mollie Stevens will all continue to produce offensively and the defense anchored by Angela Flister and Caroline Fitzgerald will be among the strongest in the Big East.
When comparing last season to this season, O’Leary said that the things that need fixing are not nearly as glaring.
"This year it’s the details…there’s certainly things that we can identify and that we can work on specifically," O’Leary said. "We’re gonna move forward and hopefully the girls will come out (at practice) ready to go, and I’m sure they will."
Follow Alex Maminakis on Twitter @alexmaminakis
Sophomore attacker Sammi Burgess fights for a ground ball during UF's 17-11 loss to UNC at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.