Gabby Seiler was in obvious discomfort early in the first half of Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Round of 16 win over Washington State. Playing in a knee brace and only one day’s rest, the senior and UF team captain was favoring the leg she injured in an Oct. 22 win at Tennessee after a WSU defender tackled her from behind.
Soon after, Seiler jogged to the sideline to talk with her coach.
Deanne Rose stood inside the Washington State box with open arms as her teammates rushed fro…
What she said to coach Becky Burleigh wasn’t related to her nagging injury, it was about radically changing Florida’s formation from three defenders on the back line to four.
“It’s really hard to change formation in the middle of a game,” Seiler said. “I just saw in that moment that we’re going to go to a four back and we’re going to settle down. That’s just our comfort zone.”
Her versatility has been an asset all season, and is playing a key role in UF’s postseason run. In her last home game as Gator, Seiler played all 104 minutes of the double-overtime thriller in multiple positions.
“That’s called leadership,” Burleigh said about Seiler.
After assisting Deanne Rose on the game-winning goal in the second overtime, Seiler fell to her knees, exhausted and overcome with emotion.
“It’s easy when you’re going into a second overtime to kind of give up,” Seiler said. “But we kept using each other… I think the power in belief and kind of feeding off each other is what got us that win.”
It’s clear that Seiler believes in this Florida team. She does whatever it takes to remain on the field, including changing her knee brace at halftime from the standard, clunky variety to a compression sleeve.
The senior also uses her soccer IQ to play multiple positions — anywhere from defender to striker — so that her leadership on the field isn’t wasted. On Sunday, she played quality minutes in the central-defensive midfield, the attacking midfield and even center forward at times.
Seiler’s versatility makes her a unique weapon for the Gators in both the attack and defense that has menaced every UF opponent this season, except one.
South Carolina played Florida just days after Seiler suffered her injury at Tennessee.
It was the only game she didn’t participate in this season, as the Gators narrowly lost to the SEC regular season champions, 1-0.
But heading into a second meeting with the Gamecocks and with a College Cup birth on the line, Seiler is preaching the same belief in her team that she displayed on Sunday.
“I think just moving forward, playing South Carolina we’re going to have the same mentality,” Seiler said. “ We’re never going to give up and we’re going to keep being resilient.”
You can follow Mark Stine on Twitter @mstinejr, and contact him at [email protected].