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Gators soccer team looks to end road woes Sunday at Georgia

<p>UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh talks with her team following Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.</p>

UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh talks with her team following Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

The Florida soccer team is without a scheduled weekday match for the first time this season, giving it extra time to practice and build chemistry.

“We’re just excited to have a full week of training,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “It’s really the first one we’ve had since the beginning of the season.”

Before Sunday’s match at Georgia, the No. 10 Gators need to work out their struggles on the road.

Florida holds a 3-2 record away from home this season. UF hasn’t beaten a team on the road by more than one goal this year, with two of its three wins away from Gainesville coming in overtime. And the two road losses are its only defeats on the year.

The Gators’ road troubles aren’t due to a lack of opportunity. In fact, they have more shot attempts in neutral and away games (76) than they do at home (67).

Instead, the Gators have shown a lack of efficiency with their opportunities.

In matches outside of Gainesville, UF has only scored five goals and holds a plus-one goal differential, a staggering difference compared to the 14 goals and plus 11 goal differential registered at home matches.

This leaves Florida’s shot percentage on the road at a staggering 6.6 percent as opposed to its home shot percentage of 20.9 percent. Its shot-on-goal percentage is also more than 10 points lower on the road (43.4) than at home (53.7).

A change in tactics is clearly necessary, and that change may be pressuring opponents farther up the pitch.

“I think that we’ve learned that we’re better when we’re more aggressive,” Burleigh said. “Especially defensively. And I think that’s something we’ll carry forward.”

This tactic proved helpful in the Gators’ last match against Alabama.

In the first half, Alabama seemed to have the upper hand. The Crimson Tide not only outshot Florida 5-3, but was comfortable on the ball and controlled the pace of play.

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However, UF came out after the intermission with an aggressive press that impacted the match almost immediately.

Five minutes into the second half, the Gators opened the scoring after generating their first corner of the match. They added another two minutes later after creating a turnover deep in the Tide’s side of the field.

Florida then tacked on a third on a 76th minute counter attack by Deanne Rose, scoring all three goals on six second-half shots.

“I think moving on from (Alabama) we realized that we’re a pressing team and I think we figured that out in the second half,” senior captain Gabby Seiler said. “I think just realizing that and knowing that we are pressing team is definitely going to benefit us for the rest of the year.”

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

UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh talks with her team following Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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