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<p>UF defender Christen Westphal dribbles during Florida's 2-1 win against LSU on Oct. 11, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium.</p>

UF defender Christen Westphal dribbles during Florida's 2-1 win against LSU on Oct. 11, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

A fresh start and a whole new season awaits the Florida soccer team on Saturday night.

The No. 5 Gators (17-3-1, 8-2-1 Southeastern Conference) are looking at the 2015 NCAA Tournament as a clean slate as they prepare to face Western Michigan (14-3-4, 8-1-2 Mid-Atlantic Conference) in the first round on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Coach Becky Burleigh and Florida have never faced Western Michigan in the program’s 21-year existence, but Burleigh is excited for the challenge that the winners of the MAC tournament pose in the first round.

"I think it’s a good first round game because they definitely have our attention," Burleigh said.

"I mean, they tied Notre Dame, lost in overtime to Wisconsin (and) did a pretty good job in their conference so it’s going to be a good match."

Burleigh said the first meeting between the two programs doesn’t worry her because it’s also the first time that Western Michigan will be seeing the Gators.

Burleigh said her team is focused on framing their week on the season-long theme of progression, taking one game at a time.

The Gators admitted that they don’t know much about their opening round opponent, but have watched film of Western Michigan’s games this week.

Florida is studying the Broncos’ playing style in order to better understand who they are up against.

"Sarah (Troccoli) does know a couple of girls on the team. She’s from Michigan, but we still don’t know too much about them," junior forward Savannah Jordan said.

"It’s just about focusing on us and preparing what we do best."

The Gators head into Saturday’s match with confidence, as they are currently riding a nine-game winning streak and an SEC tournament title.

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Jordan said the team’s SEC tournament experience will help them in the one-and-done style tournament.

"It gives our team some confidence and kind of proves that we can be in that type of environment, in that type of situation, and still come out of it," Jordan said.

"Our team showed a lot of resilience through the tournament and I think that’ll pay off going into the NCAA tournament as well."

When asked about how the leadership group, including herself, is trying to get the team pumped up for the first round, Jordan says the situation motivates the team.

"I think it speaks for itself," Jordan said.

"It’s single elimination. This could potentially be our last game of the season and that in itself is motivation for our team."

The Gators are hosting the first round of the tournament for the third straight season.

In 2013, the Gators defeated Jacksonville 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

And in 2014’s opening round, the Gators defeated Mercer, 3-0.

Senior defender Christen Westphal said playing at home in the postseason allows the players to experience a level of comfort.

"The one year that we played away when we could have played at home definitely kind of showed us the home advantage kind of thing," Westphal said.

"Having the ability to play here hopefully for a couple of games is definitely very comforting."

 Follow Ryan Summers on Twitter @RyanSummers18

UF defender Christen Westphal dribbles during Florida's 2-1 win against LSU on Oct. 11, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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