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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Florida faces No. 12 Tennessee in first SEC road test

The Gators travel to Knoxville, Tennessee for their fifth fixture against a top-20 team

<p>Florida&#x27;s Kit Loferski in a game against Texas A&amp;M in 2019.</p>

Florida's Kit Loferski in a game against Texas A&M in 2019.

After five straight matches against unranked opposition, Florida’s difficult schedule continues with a road test in Knoxville, Tennessee, versus the No. 12 Volunteers Thursday at 6 p.m. 

In four previous fixtures against ranked opponents, Florida has compiled a -12 goal differential, conceding 16 goals against just four scored. The Gators’ recent meetings with the Volunteers , however, have been close, with both of the previous two matchups decided by a single goal, but this year’s Tennessee team has the firepower to bury Florida.

Tennessee won 10 of its 11 matches this season, scoring 33 goals and only allowing six. Newcomer Taylor Huff emerged as a surprise leader for the Volunteers’ attack. The freshman’s six goals and three assists on the year have established her as Tennessee’s top points scorer. 

Florida only conceded twice in its last five matches, but sophomore keeper Alexa Goldberg and her back line will need another near-perfect performance to keep the Gators in Thursday’s match.

Tennessee is equally solid on defense, if not more so. Junior goalkeeper Lindsey Romig, who started in all but one match this year, surrendered an average of 0.62 goals against this season. 

The Volunteer defense may be the stingiest the Gators face all year, a worry for Florida’s consistently inconsistent attack. 

Only five Gators have scored all season, a far cry from Tennessee’s 13, with only graduate forward Kit Loferski found the net more than once (4 goals). The Volunteers defense will likely focus on shutting down Loferski, meaning another Florida player will be required to break through against the Vols. 

Look for the Gators to take advantage of set piece opportunities as they did in their 2-1 victory against Mississippi State in Starkville. Their chances may be few, but if Florida can convert as efficiently as they did against the Bulldogs, Thursday’s match will be hotly contested.

Florida kicks off against Tennessee on Thursday night in Knoxville at 7 p.m. The game can be streamed through SEC Network+.

Contact Ryan Zehnder at Follow him on Twitter @ryan_zehnder.

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