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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Florida struggles to find offense in 2-1 loss to Arkansas

<p>UF midfielder Meggie Dougherty-Howard screams as her leg is hit by an FSU defender during Florida's 3-2 win on Aug. 30, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium. Dougherty-Howard returned to the game.</p>

UF midfielder Meggie Dougherty-Howard screams as her leg is hit by an FSU defender during Florida's 3-2 win on Aug. 30, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium. Dougherty-Howard returned to the game.

Florida has been undeniably dominant against Arkansas in its program’s history, with UF entering this season a perfect 20-0 all-time against the Razorbacks.

That spotless record took a hit on Friday night, as the No. 4 Gators fell to the unranked Razorbacks 2-1 in Fayetteville.

After a two-hour weather delay, Florida (5-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) was unable to win the match despite outshooting Arkansas 20-13 and putting nine shots on goal compared to the Razorbacks’ six.

The Gators lowly offensive output on Friday was a change of tune from what’s normally been a high-volume scoring attack this season.

UF entered the contest first in the SEC in goals per game (3.5), assists per game (3.0), and points per game (10.0). The Razorbacks (8-1, 2-0 SEC) were second in the conference in those three categories.

“Bottom line, we failed to impose ourselves in the first half and they took advantage of that,” Florida coach Becky Burleigh said in a release.

Arkansas’s two goals came from junior Jessi Hartzler in the middle of the first half. The defender netted her first score at the 22:31 mark off an assist from senior Alexandra Fischer.

Two minutes later, Hartzler headed in a second goal off a setup by senior Claire Kelly to put Florida in an early 2-0 hole, its first multi-goal deficit in a match this season.

The Gators rebounded early in the second half after senior Meggie Dougherty Howard’s sliding kick in the 50th minute propelled the ball past the Razorbacks’ senior goalkeeper Cameron Carter to reduce the lead to a single score.

Dougherty Howard’s goal would end up being the only blemish on Carter’s statline. The goalkeeper shutout Florida for the rest of the match, finishing the night with eight saves.

The Gators next face UCF (5-3) on Sunday at 7 p.m. at home.

“We created tons of chances but couldn’t get the equalizer,” Burleigh said. “This is a good lesson for us to learn at this point of the season.”

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Contact Dylan Dixon at ddixon@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.

UF midfielder Meggie Dougherty-Howard screams as her leg is hit by an FSU defender during Florida's 3-2 win on Aug. 30, 2015, at James G. Pressly Stadium. Dougherty-Howard returned to the game.

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