GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In a battle of top five teams, No. 3 Florida used five unanswered goals to come from behind to beat No. 5 North Carolina in its 2013 season opener. The Gators (1-0) claim their first win in four tries against UNC and mark their first win versus an ACC opponent.
Defense and goalkeepers paced the low-scoring game, as the Orange and Blue held the Tar Heels (0-1) scoreless in the second half. Senior goalie Mikey Meagher came up big with nine saves on 20 shots in the win while senior attack Gabi Weigand scored three points off two goals and an assist to lead the Gators. Seniors Ashley Bruns, Brittany Dashiell and Kitty Cullen all chipped in goals.
UNC wreaked havoc early in the game, scoring three unanswered goals within the first eight minutes of the first half. The game turned into a defensive battle, with each goalie having six saves at the break while Florida had seven turnovers to UNC’s five.
“It’s a great win for us,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Our fundamentals at the beginning of the game and even throughout the first half were not very good. That’s a part of our program we spent quite a lot of time on in practice every single day so that to falter was disconcerting. But obviously, we persevered and pushed through it and were able to pick it up in the second half.”
Senior attacker Kitty Cullen scored the Gators’ first and only goal of the first half off a free position shot with 20:19 left in the half but the game came to a standstill as the Gators trailed 3-1 at the break.
Coming out energized in the second half, Dashiell scored her first goal of her senior campaign off an assist from Weigand to cut the Tar Heel lead to 3-2. Bruns followed up with a come-from-around goal to tie the game at three.
Weigand gave the Gators the lead for good with a goal at the 17:55 mark, and followed it up with a goal with 10:53 to play to seal the victory. In all, the Gators held UNC scoreless for 43 minutes of the 60-minute game.
The Gators worked the ball in the final four minutes as they never gave up possession in the final minutes of the game. The Gators controlled the ground ball advantage 21-12. They also totaled four draw controls.
The win marks Florida’s first victory when it trailed after halftime. It previously held an 0-11 record in games where it fell behind before the half.
“I think ultimately, North Carolina is such a fantastic team. They’re really well coached and they have great athletes and … they never gave up,” O’Leary said.