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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

No. 2 Gators bounce back to defeat Portland

<p>UF midfielder Gabby Seiler dribbles down the field during Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.</p>

UF midfielder Gabby Seiler dribbles down the field during Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

UF defender Gabby Seiler made a darting run into the Portland box.

The redshirt-senior exploited a gap in the Pilot defense that was created by the one-touch passing of Deanne Rose and Lais Araujo. Araujo chipped a ball into the path Seiler, who took the shot first-time with her weaker left foot and buried ball into the side netting for the first and only goal of the game.

It’s become a bit of a stretch to call Seiler a defender. The Georgia transfer started No. 2 Florida’s match with Portland in Seattle as a forward and lead all players with four shots. Seiler’s 24th minute goal was also her fifth goal of the season, three more than any other Gator.

The Gators (5-1) entered Sunday’s match against the Pilots (2-4) in the Husky/Nike Invitational after suffering a 1-0 loss to tournament host Washington. The 1-0 victory over Portland is a huge bounce-back win for a Florida team that had difficulty creating chances against the Huskies on Friday.

“There were way more chances generated today and that’s definitely a positive,”

UF coach Becky Burleigh said in a press release. “I thought that was our biggest improvement and some of the changes we made from Friday really worked for us.”

Florida increased its shot count from seven on Friday to 19 on Sunday and tested Portland goalkeeper Rachel Lusby by putting seven shots on target.

UF’s defense and midfield also showed improvement following its first loss. The Florida defense limited the Pilots to three shots on goal with Portland’s best chances coming on long, diagonal crosses or corner kicks ending in comfortable saves for goalkeeper Susi Espinoza. The UF midfield was also able to control the pace play, limiting the Pilots’ chances and keeping them out of the box by dominating possession of the ball.

Even though the Gators showed signs of improvement against Portland, they’ll need to continue to progress and recover from the road in order to get positive results from a tough weekend homestand.

“We are looking forward to playing in front of our home fans and sleeping in our own beds,” Burleigh said in a press release. “This has been a long trip, but I think a really productive one.”

The Gators’ weekend begins Friday at 7 p.m. in a match with rival No. 15 Florida State and spans through Sunday night when they host South Florida.

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

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UF midfielder Gabby Seiler dribbles down the field during Florida's 5-2 win against Iowa State on Aug. 19, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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