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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Gators going to Seattle to face Washington, Portland

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-18b1b234-3c47-7ec7-6649-74230b06698c"><span>The Gators are going up against Washington tonight at 11 p.m. and will face Portland at 9 p.m. on Sunday.</span></span></p>

The Gators are going up against Washington tonight at 11 p.m. and will face Portland at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

The Florida soccer team is taking its new No. 2 ranking to Seattle this weekend to play in the Husky/Nike Invitational.

Florida (4-0) is slated to face Washington (2-2) tonight at 11 p.m. and Portland (2-2) on Sunday at 9 p.m. after making the farthest northwest trip in the program’s 23-year history.

UF will play its second Pac-12 opponent in as many weeks when it faces the Huskies. But according to UF coach Becky Burleigh, the road trip presents some challenges.

“The time zone issue is going to be a challenge,” Burleigh said. “But learning how to deal with travel will be a good lesson for us to carry forward.”

Although the match will be played at the University of Washington, Florida will continue its road trip on Sunday when it matches up with the Pilots.

Portland has won two national championships in program history (2002, 2005), with the latter coming under current head coach Garrett Smith. Burleigh can attest firsthand to the quality of Smith’s team, never having previously beaten the West Coast Conference squad.

The Pilots are 1-0-1 in the all-time series. The two schools met for the first time in 2006 when Portland was the defending national champion, and again in 2008.

Involved in those matches for the Pilots was Megan Rapinoe, a current member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Rapinoe may be well known for her outspoken nature regarding issues with racial and gender equality, but her career at Portland is worth noting as well. In only 60 career appearances for the Pilots, Rapinoe logged 30 goals and 28 assists as well as a national championship in 2005.

And the U.S. midfielder is one of many legendary players Portland has produced.

Tiffeny Milbrett attended Portland from 1990-1995. The forward later became the leading goal scorer on 1999 U.S. women’s team that won the FIFA World Cup.

The Pilots also featured Canadian star Christine Sinclair, who has played in the Olympics alongside UF freshman Deanne Rose.

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Sinclair was on both Pilot national championship teams, leading Portland to the title in 2005 with an NCAA single-season record of 39 goals, including two in the national title game. In a collegiate career spanning from 2001-2005, Sinclair registered a total of 110 goals and 32 assists in 94 career matches for the Pilots.

Even though Florida may not encounter a Portland player of the same quality as Rapinoe, Milbrett or Sinclair on Sunday, it should proceed with caution regardless.

“In the history of our sport, Portland has been one of the most storied programs,” Burleigh said. “There’s different styles of play in different parts of the country. So we’ll see something different. But I think our team is excited to take our show on the road a little bit and see opponents that we generally don’t see.”

You can follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr, and contact him at mstine@alligator.org.

The Gators are going up against Washington tonight at 11 p.m. and will face Portland at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

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