The Volunteers didn’t take long to make their mark.
The only constant in the Gators’ offense has been inconsistency.
It only took a tap of the ball from streaking Tennessee forward Danielle Marcano to find the back of the net off a cross from teammates Erin Gilroy and Meghan Flynn. The Gators quickly fell behind 1-0.
The Gators (4-7-2, 2-2-1 SEC) dropped to the Volunteers 2-0 on Thursday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, the team’s first loss since September 16th.
Despite the lapse in defensive play to start the match, the Gators held their own for the rest of the first half. The team had outshot the Volunteers 7-4 once the half ended with Tennessee (10-1-1, 4-1 SEC) up 1-0, and it was finding good chances.
UF’s Mayra Pelayo had a wide open look during the 23rd minute just feet away from the goal, but her shot was too high and it bounced off the crossbar. Florida had another good chance in the 35th minute when midfielder Sarah Troccoli took a shot from the left side of the goal in the six-yard box, but Vols goalkeeper Shae Yanez made the save.
UF put a limit on Tennessee’s offense heading into the second period aside from a close call in the 41st minute when the Gators’ goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese deflected a shot that bounced off the crossbar.
Tennessee’s offense came out strong once the second half began. The Volunteers struck again in the 57th minute when Gilroy put the ball in for her second goal of the season, extending UT’s lead to two.
Florida didn’t take another shot until the 76th minute, but the team kept a solid offensive attack for the rest of the match. Although the team took plenty of shots in the latter half of the game, the Gators’ efforts were in vain and the team found itself shut out for the eighth time this season when the clock hit zero.
Coach Becky Burleigh commended Tennessee’s defense, which has only let up four goals the entire season. She also asserted UF’s offensive play didn’t make it difficult for the Volunteers.
“I think we made it a little easy for them,” she said after the game. “Our chances weren’t very critical.”
Florida will only get two days off before it heads to South Carolina to take on the defending SEC Champion Gamecocks at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Although the team took the loss against Tennessee, midfielder Sammie Betters said she isn’t too worried about the impending match.
“We’re not scared of them,” she said. “We get excited and we get worked up for it in a good way.”
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells or contact him at [email protected].