If the Gators buys into the old saying that defense wins championships, Florida took a step in the right direction toward that ultimate goal in their thumping of Georgetown on Saturday.
The No. 9 Gators (9-4, 3-0 Big East) took care of the Hoyas (2-9, 1-1 Big East) 18-4 on Saturday in Gainesville, and while UF’s offense displayed its typical dominance, the defense turned in its best performance of the season, coach Amanda O’Leary said.
Florida held Georgetown to four goals on just 17 shots while forcing the Hoyas into 19 turnovers and 26 ground balls.
Junior goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox made seven saves, and Caroline Fitzgerald and Nicole Graziano each forced four ground balls – a season-high for Fitzgerald and a career-high for Graziano.
"It was probably, in my opinion, the best we’ve played all season," O’Leary said on Monday. "Offensively, defensively, through the ride – we truly played a complete game."
O’Leary praised her defensive line and defensive midfielders for their one-on-one defense, their communication and their leadership throughout Saturday’s win.
Florida displayed its full potential against Georgetown by utilizing its relentless offense and powerful defense — a combination the Gators have been trying to perfect all season.
Sophomore Taylor Bresnahan was a player who, O’Leary said, had the best game she’s played all year in the win over Georgetown. Bresnahan has played at defender and midfielder this season, and has consistently brought a strong defensive presence to each game she’s played in. She said high intensity and trust among her teammates is the key to sustaining that balance between a strong offense and defense.
"It goes back to intensity, and just playing hard like we can, playing hard for each other," Bresnahan said. "It’s just easier to know that the person next to you has your back."
O’Leary was quick to point out that there are still areas to improve upon, but now that Florida is figuring out how to play with that combination of high-powered offense and brute defense, the Gators have the potential to be one of the most dangerous teams in the country heading toward the postseason.
"It’s fun to watch," O’Leary said. "As someone who has seen them play day-in and day-out, when you watch it all come together, it’s an exciting time."
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Mary-Sean Wilcox defends a shotduring UF’s win against Cincinnati on Feb. 23 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.