Gators host UCF to kickoff quartet of in-state opponents

By Official Florida FC

The University of Florida may be the Sunshine State’s flagship school. It’s quest to be the state’s premier women’s soccer program will take shape over the next fortnight when the Gators (0-1-1) play four straight in-state opponents.

Florida hosts No. 19 UCF (1-0) on Thursday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. They will follow that encounter with a home game against Miami (1-0) on Sunday afternoon.

Labor Day weekend will feature a pair of road contests with a Sept. 2 trek to Tallahassee to tangle with No. 1 Florida State (2-0) and a Sept. 5 jaunt down to Fort Myers to face Florida Gulf Coast (1-1).

For now, the Gators are in search of their first win under first-year coach Tony Amato. The new coach said the program is still figuring out its identity with possession.

Senior Kit Loferski has scored both Gator goals this season. But, both have been equalizers, including an 87th minute goal in a 1-1 draw against Texas on Sunday.

That same Texas team was trounced by UCF on Aug. 19. UCF scored early en route to a 4-0 win.

Wednesday, Amato told reporters that UCF created a lot of chances in its opener against the Longhorns. He added UCF was able to dictate the game with possession, in part because the Knights pushed their fullbacks upfield and used that width to create spaces.

Considering the Gators have conceded 23 shots on goal in two matches, facing a team that has willing runners may be a challenge. Amato said his team’s fullbacks have been tested in the first two games of the season and that will help the entire XI as players like sophomore Tori Grambo and the 2021 winner of Florida’s Miss Soccer, Madison Young return to the fold.

“My definite style that I’ve gone with for, whatever it is, 18 years of being a head coach is winning style,” Amato said Wednesday.

“We go into it going ‘What can this team do? How can they win? How do we win this game against UCF? Does that mean we played this way or that way, this formation or that formation or are we trying to stretch them? Are we trying to play in front of them? Are we trying to combine that are we trying to play four in midfield, five and midfield, two in midfield all those things are really based on what gives our chance our team, the best chance to win.”

A win against the Knights would be a welcomed sight. Florida controls the all-time series, but the Knights have won each of the last two contests, including a 2-0 win in 2019.

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