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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
<p>Gabby Seiler (38) celebrates with teammates during Florida's 3-2 win over UCF on Sept. 18 at James G. Pressly Stadium.</p>

Gabby Seiler (38) celebrates with teammates during Florida's 3-2 win over UCF on Sept. 18 at James G. Pressly Stadium.

Gabby Seiler knows how to be versatile.

The redshirt senior captain of the Gators soccer team is a defender on the pitch for the most part. During Sunday’s game against Syracuse, Seiler cleanly won tackle after tackle on the back line, in her own box and at midfield.

She can also put the ball in the back of the net when need be. Her goals against Stanford and Syracuse — a point-blank header to tie the match with the Cardinal and an early-game penalty kick against the Orange — earned the flexible “midfielder” SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Seiler tried to downplay the award during practice on Tuesday.

“I mean, I think it’s great, but that’s just a testament to my teammates,” Seiler said. “I think it’s cool, but I’m more concerned about our games going into this weekend and making sure we get two wins.”

The efforts of Seiler and the Gators have catapulted Florida up to No. 2 in the most recent coaches poll, its highest ranking since 1999.

This weekend presents a new, yet familiar challenge for Seiler and her Gators teammates: long-distance travel. Florida flies west after practice Wednesday to take on a pair of Pacific Northwest teams in the Husky/Nike Invitational.

“I think it’s difficult,” Seiler said. “But I think it’s nothing new to us… Maybe for the freshmen, but overall, I think it’ll be a good experience.”

Seiler already has experience playing in Seattle, having participated in the U.S. Women’s U-23 training camp in July.

Last year, the Gators traveled to California to take on Stanford and UCLA, splitting the two games with a loss to the Cardinal and a victory against the Bruins, both one-goal overtime results.

Coach Becky Burleigh and her upperclassmen have been in this scenario before, but it’s always a challenge crossing multiple time zones.

“We really don’t miss much in terms of training,” Burleigh said. “We just kind of have to treat [Wednesday] as like a hard day because the long travel is like a hard day physically.”

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Burleigh said she welcomes the road trip to the West Coast as a sort of test for her squad.

“The timezone issue is going to be a challenge,” Burleigh said. “I think that that’s good for us because learning how to deal with travel… will be a good lesson for us to carry forward.”

Burleigh also said she has respect for both opponents she’ll be facing this weekend in the University of Washington and Portland.

“Sometimes, there’s different styles of play in different parts of the country, so we’ll see something very different,” Burleigh said. “[We’ll] play in different conditions. Obviously, we probably won’t have the humidity, the grass might be a little different, so these are all good things for us to add to what we learn.”

The Gators are set to take on Washington on Friday at 11 p.m. EST and Portland at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at

Gabby Seiler (38) celebrates with teammates during Florida's 3-2 win over UCF on Sept. 18 at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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