“The Hangover” could take a lesson from the way Florida struggled last weekend.
The Gators came crashing back down to Earth following consecutive 1-0 defeats at the hands of unranked Ohio State and Oklahoma State. The losses dropped Florida 17 places in the United Soccer Coaches poll from No. 5 to No. 22.
It won’t get any easier for the Gators with No. 2 UCLA and No. 7 USC coming to Gainesville this weekend. Here’s what to look out for as UF tries to climb back up the rankings:
Will the real UF offense please stand up?
So far in this young season, it has been a tale of two offenses for the Gators.
The team scored six goals and took 30 shots through its first two games. In its two losses, it has been held to just 21 shots and no goals.
“I don’t think we’ve really created enough chances,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We’re missing some dynamic players, but that’s just part of college soccer. So we have to find different ways to be effective, and that’ll be our job in practice this week.”
UCLA has only given up one goal in two games this year, and USC has only given up one in three. UF’s offensive production this weekend will be telling against a pair of stout Pac-12 defenses.
Who will step up with Deanne Rose absent?
Forward Deanne Rose, who was All-SEC First Team last year as a freshman and is arguably Florida’s best scoring threat, has not appeared in a game since the season opener. She sat out the last few games nursing a hamstring injury and leaves the team for 10 days to be with the Canadian National Team.
Freshman Cassidy Lindley stepped up in her absence in Florida’s win over FAU, scoring her first goal and recording two assists. Since being named SEC Freshman of the Week, Lindley has cooled off along with the rest of the Gators’ offense.
Florida missed that spark in the last two games, and somebody will have to step up in Rose’s absence in order to get the Gators back on the right track. Lindley, as well as forwards Melanie Monteagudo and Madison Alexander, and midfielder Sammie Betters, have scored all of Florida’s goals this year.
Atmosphere at Dizney Stadium
It’s not every weekend that two top-10 teams make trips to Gainesville.
Friday’s match with UCLA will be the first contest between two ranked teams since UF made Donald R. Dizney Stadium its permanent home. Burleigh said that the atmosphere from Gators fans has been impressive so far and that she expects it to ramp up for the upcoming weekend.
“We have had two really good environments,” she said, “but I think with these two teams coming it could be even more exciting.”
You can follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano or contact him at email@example.com.
The Gators will miss star forward Deanne Rose, who's on international duty with the Canadian national team, when they host No. 9 Tennessee on Thursday.