The Gators dropped to eighth in the most recent Inside Lacrosse Maverik Women’s Division I Media Poll after their 17-6 drubbing at the hands of Loyola-Maryland Saturday at home.
Against the 10th-ranked Greyhounds, the only two categories UF had the advantage in were draw controls (13) and fouls (26), the latter of which told the tale of Florida’s frustrations as it couldn’t mount a comeback. Today at 11 a.m., it will play the Owls, the first unranked team it has faced this season.
Following Saturday’s game, coach Amanda O’Leary spoke on how she wants the team to generate consistent offense beyond the production of junior midfielder Shannon Kavanagh. The midfielder's 14 goals have accounted for 44 percent of all the team’s goals scored this season.
Behind her is redshirt junior midfielder Brianna Harris who has scored 10 goals this season, 31 percent of the team’s total.
It’s not an attribution to lack of talent, as Florida’s underclassmen did well to score in the first two games. Rather its young roster still has room to grow. As O’Leary put it, it’s a matter of confidence for the team to have while cutting toward the goal.
The offense should improve that confidence against an Owls’ defense that is allowing 14 goals per game through its first two contests. KSU goalie Alex Bunn is averaging 10 saves per game and saves 42 percent of her shots.
An added bonus for the Gators is they commit 10.33 turnovers per game, fourth in the NCAA. It is an advantage against a Kennesaw State team, which causes six turnovers per game, ranking 104th nationally.
Defensively, UF will be tasked with stopping sisters Sienna and Marissa Gore, who have combined for 17 points through KSU’s first two games. It will be up to the trio of defenders, starting with senior Cara Trombetta, junior Kaitlyn Dabkowski and freshman Becky Browndorf to ease the pressure for redshirt freshman goalkeeper Sarah Reznick, whose 45 percent save percentage ranks 52nd nationally.
O’Leary knows there’s work to be done before the team finds its potential. After the loss, she spoke about using each game as a learning opportunity. With 14 games left on the season, including today’s, Florida has a wealth of opportunities to improve, while testing itself against some of the nation’s stiffest competition. This includes Saturday’s matchup against No. 3 Stony Brook.
Follow Christian on Twitter @unofficialchris and contact him at email@example.com.