Fresh Faces Highlight Florida Win
That No. 4 Florida raced to a 18-6 win over unranked UMBC was expected. Even playing a road game in chilly weather, Gators (2-1) easily dominated the Retrievers (0-1). While Florida split the draw 13-13 with UMBC, the team was on point with its shooting, scoring 18 goals on just 35 shots, and a lot of those shots came from first-year players.
“We really wanted to focus on shooting to score, not just shooting to shoot,” said junior attacker Gabi Wiegand, who had three goals and one assist in the win.
Wiegand transferred to Florida after two seasons at the University of Richmond. Wiegand was the second leading scorer for the Spiders last season (49 g, 13a), and she is currently sitting atop the Gators’ scoring charts with nine goals after three games. Junior midfielder and reigning ALC Player of the Year Kitty Cullen is No. 2 with eight goals. (Wiegand, Cullen and Ashley Bruns are all tied as the points leader with 11.) Cullen looked sharp versus the Retrievers, leading the team with six points (4g, 2a). But the Gators’ team, now in Year 3, has lots of talent and isn’t leaning on any one player too hard. Freshman midfielder Nicole Graziano came off the bench to score 5 goals. Freshman midfielder Nora Barry and Sally Jentis are both starters, and Barry leads the team in ground balls (six) and draw controls (10).
It’s hard to tell a lot after just three games (and only one against a ranked opponent), but the Gators seem to have the depth to keep lumbering after the national championship that has been the programs stated goal since Day 1. The fresh faces easily offset the transfer of Janine Hiller (34g in 2011) and the slow recovery of freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy from a torn ALC. (Gilroy has played somewhat limited in all three of the Gators’ games this year, and she contributed one goal, one assist and a team-high four draw controls versus UMBC.)
“We’ve become much more diversified offensively. This year we have the ability to serve the ball to anyone,” said head coach Mandee O’Leary.