Washington forward Kimberly Keever patiently waited on the near sideline in the Gators’ half of the field, holding the ball over her head, directing traffic to get her teammate in space for a throw-in. She hurled it a solid 20 yards, then watched as the ball bounced another 10 until it came within striking distance for fellow senior Shannon Simon.
Simon needed no moves, no dribble. She took the shot first-touch from 20 yards out, and curled it just under the crossbar and over the outstretched fingers of Florida goalie Suzi Espinoza.
Boom. One-nil, Washington.
Less than two minutes into the Gators’ first ever matchup with the Huskies, the game saw its only goal of the night as Florida fell to Washington.
Coach Becky Burleigh said that her team can use this game as a teachable moment moving forward.
“It wasn't for a lack of effort by our team,” Burleigh said. “It's something we've just got to learn from, grow from and take it with us going forward for the rest of the season.”
A lack of effort was never the problem for Burleigh’s squad. The match featured plenty of offensive chances on both sides. The Gators and Huskies each took seven shots. They both had three corners. And for all the possession the Gators maintained throughout, they could not crack Washington goalie Sarah Shimer.
"Washington was really committed to defending, especially in the second half,” Burleigh said. “They did a good job of keeping us out of dangerous areas. Give credit to the early finish they had – it was a good finish.”
The loss came just a few days after moving up the rankings to No. 2 - their highest ranking since 1999 - and will likely see themselves slip a little.
The Gators' sideline clamored a few times late in the second half for handball calls from the referees to no avail. The officials were quite busy in other aspects however, calling 20 total fouls on Washington and eight on Florida.
One of the better chances for the Gators came from a free kick about 20 yards from goal in the 61st minute. After redshirt senior captain Gabby Seiler was fouled outside the box, junior midfielder Mayra Pelayo approached the ball and drove a shot on goal. But there was nothing getting past Shimer in this match. She held onto it near-post for one of her four saves on the night.
Burleigh had her sights set forward after the tough loss.
“No single game is going to define you – it's really what comes from the game,” Burleigh said. “I know we'll have a chance to take a look at this and see what we can learn from it."
The Gators take on the Portland Pilots on Sunday at 9 p.m. EST to wrap up the west coach road trip.
You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at email@example.com.
Mayra Pelayo controls the ball with a defender behind her during Florida's 2-1 win against Syracuse on Aug. 27, 2017, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.