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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
<p>UF goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese throws the ball back into play during the first half of Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.</p>

UF goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese throws the ball back into play during the first half of Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

Florida goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese refuses to accept the bulk of the credit when it comes to her team’s recent success on defense.

The No. 20 Gators (10-4, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) have shut down their opponents’ scoring attacks with ease in recent weeks, allowing only two goals over their last five contests.

And while the sophomore from St. Petersburg is the last line of UF’s defense, she continually praises her teammates for their contributions in protecting the net as well.

“The team as a whole have been working really hard as a defensive unit,” Marckese said. “It’s the entire team putting the effort in and really just staying disciplined and giving it all they have.”

The goalkeeper’s play has unquestionably improved throughout the season, though, and it’s showing in the win column.

Since an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Auburn on Sept. 22 that saw Marckese’s save percentage fall to 66.7 percent on the year, she has rebounded to save 15 of her last 17 shots faced and has led Florida to four victories in its last five matches.

Those numbers in net will be key for the Gators as they look to defeat unranked Alabama (8-6-1, 3-4-1 SEC) tonight at 6 p.m. at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

The Crimson Tide ranks sixth in the SEC in goals per game (1.87) and possesses two of the conference’s better offensive players.

Junior forward Lacey Clarida averages 0.7 goals per game, the third best mark in the league, and sophomore forward Abbie Boswell is in the top 10 for both points and assists per game.

“Alabama has some really creative attacking players, so that’s definitely going to test our defense,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “And that’s good for us.”

UF will also be playing at home for the first time in two weeks. The team is 5-1 when it plays in Gainesville this season. However, tonight’s matchup with Alabama is the first time Florida will be playing at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

The Gators’ first six matches this year took place at James G. Pressly Stadium, which is not considered a venue by the NCAA.

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A team must play two matches at a venue to have that site eligible for postseason play, and as a result, Florida’s final home contest against Mississippi State on Sunday will be played at Dizney stadium as well.

“I’m excited about being at home for sure,” Burleigh said. “I’m excited about Sunday for senior day. I think it’s going to be a really fun weekend. The weather is supposed to turn a little bit cooler, so it looks like really good things are happening.”

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

UF goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese throws the ball back into play during the first half of Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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