The Florida women's soccer team ended its opening weekend at home on a perfect note. The Gators secured their second win of the season and their 200th home win by beating FAU 3-0.
Despite the scoreline, the Owls provided quite the test early. Florida Atlantic was the most aggressive team when the match began with UF struggling to piece together an attack without being pressured.
"They out a lot of pressure on us, and they made us play quick," said UF midfielder Melanie Monteagudo. "We couldn't get away from passing, and we had to keep passing which is going to help us down the road when we play in the SEC and going to the west coast."
It was not until about half way through the first half, when the Gators had the break through from a throw in. Taking advantage of the new FAU subs not positioned well Monteagudo found herself alone inside the box with the ball landing at her feet. She booted an eight-yard shot right past the keeper.
"It was literally my first touch of the game," said Monteagudo. "I get in and it fell to me inside the box. I think Savannah's [Jordan] shot got deflected and it fell in front me, and I just placed it."
Five minutes later, the Gators doubled their lead after Monteguado was brought down inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Meggie Dougherty Howard stepped up and slotted the PK in the bottom left hand corner.
The Owls had plenty of opportunities to bring the game within one, after UF keeper Kaylan Marckese was off her line and nearly paid for it, when FAU striker ,Sammy Rowland, tried to lob one over Marckese's head and hitting the crossbar.
The match took a turn, however, with just seconds to go in the first half. Savannah Jordan on a counter was brought down in the area after FAU's keeper, Sydney Drinkwater, used her body to block Jordan. Drinkwater saw straight red, while the forward striker went to the spot. Jordan's penalty was saved by back-up keeper, Jennifer Ocampo, however, Jordan was able to follow through on the rebound to secure the 3-0 lead heading into the break.
Despite being one man up and outshooting the visitors 13 to 0 in the second half, the Gators could not add to the scoreline. UF did come close several times hitting both posts and the crossbar at least once in the last 45 minutes.
"We are creating several opportunities," said Jordan after hitting the post and crossbar herself a few times. "My teammates are doing a great job setting me up and setting up my teammates as well, and I think our chances will come. This is only our second game of the season, and we are still getting into a rhythm."
Although UF did not show the offensive power they demonstrated on Friday night, the Gators did check one thing off their list, a clean sheet.
"The best for us in the second half was we didn't want them to have no looks whatsoever, no offensive presence from them," said Florida head coach Becky Burleigh. "I think we accomplished that, and that was a real positive for us. Thats a goal we set at halftime and thats a goal we established by the end of the game."
"We wanted to stay sharp on defense," said Marckese after securing her first shut out of the season. "Coming into the locker room 3-0, it was important for us to get that shut out especially after Friday night."
The Gators will now hit the road for six straight away matches starting with Stanford on Friday night.
"It’s a tough travel schedule because we really only have two days of practice," said Burleigh. "We’ll be off tomorrow, train Tuesday in the morning; we travel Wednesday, which is going to be a tough day. It’s about recovering our bodies from the weekend, getting a couple things ironed out, then playing on Friday
"We're just going to take one game at a time..give each team their own respect, but come out how we want to come out, and just focus on us," said Marckese.
"I don't think there is anyway to prepare for that," joked Monteagudo about the next six games. "We just have to mentally focus, even though we are going away, keep the same mentality at home."
"We do a lot of recovery," added Marckese. "We do a lot of yoga and meditation and we are doing more than we did last year just because we know we are going to be on the road so much, and that can really have a two on your body before you start playing."
Kickoff for the match in California is slated for 11 p.m. eastern.