UF soccer opens with loaded roster


Florida forward Savannah Jordan dribbles past Texas A&M defender McKayla Paulson at Donald R. Dizney Stadium last September. Jordan again leads the Gators this season. (Andres Leiva/Correspondent)

Andres Leiva
Published: Friday, August 19, 2016 at 10:19 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 19, 2016 at 10:19 a.m.

The Florida women's soccer team opens the season with a 39-player roster that is the largest in the school's 22-year history, two more than suited up in 2010.

Facts

Today

Who: Iowa State vs. No. 7 Florida

Where: James G. Pressly Stadium on UF campus

When: 7 p.m., with gates opening at 6

Admission: Free for all regular season home matches

Radio: AM-850, 95.3-FM

Online: SEC Network+

The Gators, ranked No. 7 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason coaches poll, won both of their preseason exhibitions, downing Southeastern Conference foe and No. 8 Texas A&M and in-state rival South Florida by identical 2-1 margins.

Coach Becky Burleigh is understandably excited.

“We're always the first sport to kick off, and that's exciting for us,” Burleigh said. “This year we're really fortunate because we got to play two exhibitions, so I feel like we're pretty prepared for game-like atmosphere. We're just really excited to get the season rolling.”

This marks the 20th consecutive season UF has been ranked in the NSCAA preseason poll.

The Gators, picked to win their 15th SEC title, open play tonight against Iowa State at James G. Pressly Stadium at 7 in the first match between the two squads.

Sunday, UF will host FAU at 1 p.m. to close out opening weekend.

Senior and three-time All-American forward Savannah Jordan, the two-time (2013, 2015) SEC Player of the Year, leads the charge.

“We had a really competitive preseason,” Jordan said. “I think we have a lot of depth on our roster. We have a lot of great players that came in this year, and our preseason was super-competitive. We won both exhibition games against quality teams, and I think it was a good way to start. Hopefully, we can continue that this weekend.”

Fellow senior Meggie Dougherty Howard echoed those thoughts.

“Based on how preseason has been going so far, we have a really good group of girls,” Dougherty Howard said. “Everybody has been really focused, and the intensity at practice has been really high.”

Let the games begin.

“It's been awesome,” Burleigh said. “We've been able to do some things we've never been able to do before. I think the competition has been really healthy within the group, and I think everybody is pushing everybody.”

Eight starters return from last year's 19-4-1 team that won the SEC regular-season championship as well as the SEC Tournament title and advanced to the third round (Sweet 16) of the NCAA playoffs.

Joining Jordan and Dougherty Howard are seniors Brooke Sharp (forward) and Liz Slattery (midfielder), redshirt junior Kristen Cardano (defender), and sophomores Sarah Troccoli (midfielder), Rachelle Smith (defender) and Kaylan Marckese (goalkeeper).

The Gators also welcome redshirt junior Gabby Seiler, a 2014 All-SEC first-team selection with Georgia, who joins UF after sitting out last year due to transferring.

A nation-high three Gators — Dougherty Howard, Jordan and Seiler – are among the 36 Division I women's players on the Preseason MAC Hermann Watch List.

In addition, there are 16 newcomers to the squad, including 13 freshmen.

“It's definitely an exciting time,” Jordan said. “Preseason is always fun for us to get going, and I'm excited for another opening weekend. It is my last, but I'm looking forward to it.”

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top