Despite the cold front moving through Gainesville this weekend, things got heated in Donald R. Dizney Stadium this afternoon.
39 fouls, seven yellow cards and 45 shots on goal made for a fiery season opener for the Gators. The stadium was packed with a fervent home crowd that fueled the fight Florida needed to finally put the Buffaloes away.
After 60 minutes of back and forth play, Florida defeated Colorado, 11-10.
The Buffaloes started off strong with three of the first four goals in the game.
Fed up with every whistle blown and not blown, Florida fans grunted and groaned at nearly every gesture made by the officiating staff.
“I think it’ll be easier for us coming in to more cleaner games,” the midfielder said. “I think that’s what kind of frazzled people, too, was that [the game] was getting chippy. We’ve been working on that part of our game as well as not being as — yellow cards and swinging and stuff like that.”
In the first half, what would have been junior captain Shannon Kavanagh’s first goal of the season was overturned and she was dealt a yellow card for a reason unbeknownst, it seemed, to the game’s announcer or the officials. Refs ran back and forth from the sideline and the crowd got restless.
But after Colorado’s 5-2 run, which would be the largest lead of the day by either team, Redshirt junior Briana Harris and Kavanagh led the offensive charge for the Gators. They and freshman Emily Heller, who scored her first two collegiate goals in the first half, ran back to the locker room with the rest of their teammates with the score tied at six each.
Under Kavanagh and Harris’ guidance, Florida extended its all-time series lead over the Buffaloes to 5-0. The tandem scored nine of the team’s 11 goals, each cementing their own hat trick with back-to-back goals early in the second half. Harris recorded a career-high five goals in her first game of the decade, but took more pride in the team’s execution as a whole today than her own record.
“I don’t think it was really one person, like me or Shannon [Kavanagh] or anybody else,” Harris said. “Maybe my part today was to score a few goals, get a few draw controls, but at the end of the day, it’s just everybody playing their part and trying to better everybody else.”
Next weekend, the Gators will travel to College Park, Maryland to take on the No. 1 Terrapins at their home field on Feb 15.