After handily defeating George Mason 16-5 on Saturday, the Terps will travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. The Gators are coming off a big win over No. 17 Colorado, 16-9 on Saturday. A win against the Gators Thursday will give head coach Cathy Reese her 250th win at Maryland, in just her 11th season as head coach.
Both teams are familiar with one another, as Maryland edged out Florida 16-14 in Gainesville last season. Florida assistant coach Nadine Hadnagy played at Maryland, another source of familiarity for both teams. Reese certainly knows competing against the Gators will be a tough challenge for Maryland.
“[Florida] is similar to us in the way that they’re a really strong offense, they’re really good on the draw and they have a really strong defense,” Reese said. “Coming off of last year’s game, I think we need to a better job on the draw, so that will be an important area of focus for us.”
Florida has one of the best offenses in the country, led by the duo of sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanaugh and senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck, who combined for 11 points against Colorado. Senior defender Julia Braig, the leader of the Terps defense, played against the Gators last season, which allows her to know some of the Gators tendencies and best players.
“I think we always know that Florida is going to come out fast, aggressive and physical so it’s definitely something we work on leading up to the game,” Braig said.
A key for Maryland will be experience .With a veteran-laiden starting lineup, many of the starters faced the Gators last season. 11 players on Maryland’s current roster played against the Gators last season, including senior attacker Jen Giles who scored four goals.
“Last year some of my players it was their second game of the season starting, like I brought Lizzie Colson and Grace Griffin,” Reese said. “This is nice that those players have had another year of experience, so they’ve seen Florida and seen how they’ve gone through the season.”
Graduate transfer midfielder Erica Evans fit right in against George Mason, finishing with four points in her first game action in a Maryland uniform.
“It felt really good to be back on the field,” Evans said. “It felt like I got a monkey off my shoulders, it’s kind of nice to get on the board early.”
One area in particular that Maryland would like to improve upon against Florida is shooting efficiency. Against George Mason, Maryland had 10 free position opportunities, however only five were converted.
“Offensively I thought we had some good looks, but we have to shoot better,” Reese said.
Maryland will look to play a strong-well rounded game against Florida with first draw set for 7:00 p.m from Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville on Thursday.
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