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Monday, October 25, 2021
<p>UF's Mollie Stevens attempts to make a play on the ball during Florida's 12-11 win over Michigan on Feb. 13, 2016, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.&nbsp;</p>

UF's Mollie Stevens attempts to make a play on the ball during Florida's 12-11 win over Michigan on Feb. 13, 2016, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. 

Last season, then-No. 5 Florida traveled to College Park, Maryland, on March 14 to face the No. 1 Terrapins, hoping to pull off its third victory over a No. 1 opponent in program history.

Then-senior midfielder Shannon Gilroy scored the first goal of the match fewer than two minutes in. The Gators were headed in the right direction, but the Terps recovered. A 16-5 run resulted in a lopsided Maryland win.

On Saturday at noon, Florida will get another crack at No. 1 Maryland (5-0).

This time, it will be at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. And this time, the Gators are better equipped for the challenge that lies ahead.

Last year, the Maryland game followed Florida’s overtime loss to Syracuse in Gainesville.

However, coming into this season’s matchup, UF is 9-0 and has won six games against ranked opponents.

"I think we have more confidence this year," senior attacker Devon Schneider said.

"We kinda have a swag now — a cockiness about us — and I think that will help."

That confidence has resulted in a diverse attack — consisting of five double-digit goal scorers thus far — combined with an overwhelming back line.

The Florida defense has allowed just 18 goals in the last three games and just two second-half goals in the past two matches.

The latter statistic can be attributed to halftime defensive adjustments made by coach Amanda O’Leary.

But a halftime adjustment may come too late if Saturday’s game gets out of hand — Maryland holds the No. 2 scoring offense in the country.

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"It’s really critical against a team like Maryland that they go out and they make those adjustments themselves," O’Leary said.

Following Monday’s 15-7 win over No. 17 Towson, O’Leary said that the biggest thing the Gators needed to work on is avoiding unforced turnovers.

"We have to put them in uncomfortable situations in practice," she said.

Those scenarios consist mostly of high-pressure plays that will force Florida to make hurried decisions.

Draw controls, another area where the Gators have struggled, could be the deciding factor in the game. Florida has a -2 draw-control margin this season.

Junior Mollie Stevens, who is playing in her first game since receiving a red card in last Friday’s match against Boston College, will look to alleviate the draw control problems. The midfielder is second on the team in draw controls with 16 on the year.

On the other end of the draw circle will be Maryland senior Taylor Cummings, who O’Leary said was one of the best in the NCAA at taking draw possessions.

The Gators feel they are up to the task in what is looking to be the biggest non-postseason game in the seven years of UF lacrosse.

"It’ll be a challenge for us," O’Leary said.

"But certainly one that we’re looking forward to."

Contact Kyle Brutman at kbrutman@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @KBrut13

UF's Mollie Stevens attempts to make a play on the ball during Florida's 12-11 win over Michigan on Feb. 13, 2016, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. 

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