Florida soccer hasn’t been ranked all season. At the start of September, the Gators were not particularly close to sneaking into the top 25, either. UF was in the midst of what became a four-game losing streak.
Now, after defeating Vanderbilt 1-0 on Sunday, Florida is one spot shy of the list, receiving more than double the ranking votes of any other team left out.
In Monday’s United Soccer Coaches’ poll, the Gators were left off the list, but they were the first team out. Florida received 53 votes to be ranked in the top 25, while the second most votes (Rutgers) received 24.
A ranking will come for UF if it continues to make the win column longer, however. This Sunday pits UF against No. 12 Texas A&M at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Coach Becky Burleigh’s squad will begin that match having won its last five. Furthermore, UF has now won three games in a row in-conference and boasts a 3-0 SEC record.
Here’s what the Gators need to continue to do to continue their winning ways:
Feed Cassidy Lindley
While the most dynamic player in the orange and blue is Deanne Rose, Cassidy Lindley has been brilliant lately in both stringing together attacks for her teammates as well as ripping shots of her own. She may only have one goal on the season, but it became the game-winner on Sunday against the Commodores.
More importantly, her threat to strike from the top of the 18-yard box has forced defenders to step up further than they’re comfortable with and has allowed strikers like Kouri Peace and Vanessa Kara more space closer to goal.
Wait for Rose
Ever since the Aug. 29 loss to USC, Rose has struggled to get back on the field with a hamstring injury for long periods of time. It is also important to note that she plays for the Canadian national team. She flew to Tokyo immediately after the game in Nashville, Tennessee, to face Japan in a friendly.
Her availability should look better for the rest of the season as far as national team duties, but that will be irrelevant if her hamstring is still injured. While UF has enjoyed success in Rose’s absence, its potential to beat top-tier teams shrinks dramatically without the most dynamic athlete on the roster.
Push Kit Loferski down the right wing
The right back is ironically of more value for UF on the offensive side of the pitch. Kit Loferski’s speed down the right side during counterattacks is noticeably problematic for opposing defenses, and like Lindley, she forces defenders out of the 18. That allows Kara more space up top and Peace more space on the left wing to cut in and shoot with a right-footed strike.
These elements have been there for the Gators recently, and they’re stacking wins. It seems that the Gators and Burleigh understand the type of team that they are now, and have used their weapons better.
Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at [email protected].