The Florida women’s lacrosse team has had difficulty playing at home this season.
It came out victorious only once in five games at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, compared to five wins out of seven on the road.
But the No. 19 Gators have a chance to improve their underwhelming home record when they host Vanderbilt on Saturday at noon.
“We’ve had a lot of really competitive games at home,” sophomore attacker Grace Haus said. “We’ve played really good teams, and we fought with them.”
UF (6-6, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) has competed against No. 2 Maryland, then-No. 3 North Carolina, then-No. 4 Syracuse and then-No. 10 Princeton in the friendly confines of its own stadium, losing to each of them.
Although unranked, the Commodores (9-2, 1-0 AAC) still pose a tough task for Florida.
“Across the board, their offense is very strong,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Defensively, they play a man-to-man and a zone, so they can go in and out of both.”
Vandy, who ranks first in offense among teams in the AAC (15.18 goals per game), has a well-balanced attack.
It has nine players who have scored double-digit goals, with attacker Sophie Furlong leading the team (22).
On the defensive side of the ball, Vanderbilt allows only 8.92 goals per game, the best mark in the conference.
It leads the AAC in caused turnovers per game (13.36) and sports the best save percentage in the conference (.457).
In order to win the game, the Gators will need to have a good performance in the draw circle, according to junior midfielder Brianna Harris.
Harris posted a career-high 10 draw controls in UF’s 22-11 victory over Brown on March 26.
“I think the draw circle is really important, whether it’s the first possession of the game or the last possession of the game,” she said. “That sets the tone with how well we’re going to do.”
The Commodores rank second in the AAC in draw controls per game with 14.27, and Florida is third with 14.
Sophomore defender Sabrina Cristodero, senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck and Harris have helped sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh (the primary draw taker) in the draw circle, with 53, 28 and 25 draw controls, respectively.
In the last meeting between both teams on March 18, 2018, the Gators squeaked out an 11-10 win over Vandy, and O’Leary expects another close game on Saturday.
“Vanderbilt is always fun to play,” she said. “It’s just a team that comes out and competes really hard.”
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UF attacker Grace Haus scored four goals in Florida’s 15-8 win over Temple on Saturday.