Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 Florida Gator Women's Soccer Season Preview

            Today, the 2014 Florida Gator soccer team kicks off its season with an exhibition game against FIU at 7 p.m.  I recently caught up with sophomore forward Savannah Jordan, who garnered many accolades after a spectacular freshman year, and asked her for her thoughts on the season.
“I am super excited about this season! I think our team has amazing potential this year. We have a majority of our team returning from last year and I think we have only grown from then. I can't wait to play again with all of my teammates. The vibes and attitudes on the team are nothing but positive and I think everyone is really determined to go far this year.  I'm looking forward to this season getting started!”
Savannah Jordan has every right to be optimistic as the team only lost four players to graduation.  This year, the team will be composed of eight seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores, and four freshmen.  With most of the team returning, the Gators should once again be very competitive in the SEC as well as the country.
Their schedule intrigues me as they will face many Top 25 opponents in #2 FSU, #6 Stanford, #9 Texas A&M, and #14 South Carolina.  The Gators themselves are ranked at #8 and I expect them to stay up in the polls throughout the entire season.  Some other intriguing nonconference matchups for the Gators are games against Miami at home, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on the road.
Personnel wise, the Gators’ top scorer returns in forward Savannah Jordan.  She netted 22 goals last year and I won’t be surprised if she surpasses that mark in 2014.  Another impact player on offense is senior midfielder Havana Solaun.  She led the team in assists with nine last year and also scored eight goals of her own.
Defensively, the Gators return seven players who all had significant playing time in 2013.  Anchored by seniors Lauren Silver, Karina Gutsche, Annie Bobbitt, and Tessa Andujar, the Gators defense should fare very well this year. 
Rounding off the Gator defense is senior goalkeeper Taylor Burke.  Allowing just 10 goals while tallying 13 wins and 9 shutouts, Burke will be the primary option at keeper this year as backup Nora Neset Gjøen signed a contract to play for LSK Kvinner in Norway.
As for predictions, I believe the 2014 Gator soccer team will do big things this year.  I think they will finish the regular season 16-2 with those two losses potentially coming from FSU and Stanford (who they both play exactly one week apart from each other). 
They will go undefeated in SEC play (11-0) to win the regular season title and earn the #1 seed in the SEC Tournament.  In the tournament, they will face the Texas A&M Aggies for the second straight year for the SEC Championship and will defeat them to win the championship and avenge their 2013 loss to the Aggies.

In the NCAA Tournament, I predict that the Gators will hit their peak and win a bunch of close games to claim the second National Championship in the program’s history.  This will be a special season for Gator soccer, and I can’t wait to be out there at James G. Pressly Stadium to watch history unfold!  

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