It seemed like business as usual after the Gators’ first two games of the season. The team had won both of its matches, and Canadian international Deanne Rose was impacting games like expected. She was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after she scored three and assisted once in opening weekend.
The team then proceeded to lose four straight. Rose injured her hamstring and featured only twice in the stretch of road games. The offense struggled without her, scoring only twice while conceding nine.
After the Gators fourth loss, their home opener, to a winless UCF team, coach Becky Burleigh said, “I just don’t want to get used to this, it’s not settling well with me,”
In typical Burleigh fashion, her team began winning again. The Gators have now posted back-to-back shutouts of their opponents and the goals are flowing again. The offense looks fluid and dangerous; they’ve scored seven in their last two matches. The team will ride this two-game win streak into SEC play starting tonight against Louisiana State University.
Ready for the SEC
Gators 🐊 vs. LSU 🐅
🗓Tomorrow at 8:00 pm
📍Baton Rouge, LA pic.twitter.com/5c9Sm3e9rW
— Gators Soccer (@GatorsSoccer) September 18, 2019
The Tigers Are Not Tame Competition
LSU won its first SEC title in 2018. Even though they sport a 2-4-1 record so far this season, Florida knows the game will be tough. Burleigh and senior midfielder Tess Sapone acknowledged that they will not be taking the opposition lightly.
The Tigers lost two big pieces from their successful 2018 team, forwards Alex Thomas and Adrienne Richardson. They were both top scorers for the squad and the Tigers are struggling offensively in their absence. LSU has not scored in its last three games.
Defensively, though, the Tigers are solid. Excluding a blowout loss to No. 12 Duke, LSU has only conceded five goals in six games.
Deanne Rose has missed the last two games and her availability for the LSU match is still questionable. In her absence, senior forward Vanessa Kara has stepped up.
⚽️⚽️⚽️ in 2⃣ matches earns 🐊⚽️ Vanessa Kara @SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor!
— Gators Soccer (@GatorsSoccer) September 16, 2019
Her knack for being in the right place at the right time has allowed her to score three goals in the last two games, good enough to earn her SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Redshirt junior Parker Roberts has also been playing well recently with a goal and two assists in the last two matches. She has been a positive influence on the team with her role from deep in the midfield.
With ten games left, every team the Gators face from now on is an SEC opponent. The SEC champion gets an automatic berth into the NCAA DI Women’s Soccer Championship.