Season Preview: 2015 Florida Gator Women’s Soccer


The Florida Gators women’s soccer team enters the 2015 season with very high expectations after reaching the team’s fifth Elite Eight in school history last year.

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Despite losing eight seniors who all played instrumental roles in building an incredible 17-4-2 record, the Gators do have some key personnel returning. In fact, Florida has one of the best players in the entire country returning in junior forward Savannah Jordan.

Last year, Jordan led the team with 19 goals as well as 46 total points. When asked for her outlook on the 2015 season, Jordan said,

"“I think that we are going to have an exciting year. We have a lotof new players this year and it will definitely be a different team than what wehad last year, but I think we will be very strong. For the returners, we arereally driven to pushing this team as far as possible. And for the freshmen, Iknow they are willing to put in the work/effort and jump on board with what wasleft by our amazing senior class last year. We had a great year last year and Idon’t think that can be replaced or replicated. But I think we don’t need toreplicate that, this team this year will be great in their own way. I’m alreadyexcited after being here for the summer getting ready for the season and I’mdefinitely ready to get going with preseason. I think it is going to be anotherspecial year for us.”"

Jordan has every right to be optimistic as she anchors a very experienced and skillful junior class that includes goalkeeper Valerie Tysinger and forward Brooke Sharp.

Tysinger will assume a bigger role this year in front of the net after backing up senior Taylor Burke all of last season.

In her limited action on the pitch, Tysinger made 11 saves and allowed just one goal to earn herself a .917 save percentage for the year.

As for Sharp, she is Florida’s other main scoring threat as she netted four goals in 2014. She will definitely get many shot opportunities this season as opposing teams will be too focused on stopping Savannah Jordan.

Florida will be led by four seniors in 2015.

Brooke SmithClaire Falknor, and Christen Westphal make up a formidable Florida defense with Lauren Smith assuming duties as a midfielder. Together, the four of them combined for three goals (two from Lauren and one from Brooke) with a total of four assists.

With one last year remaining to leave their mark on the Florida soccer program, these four will embrace the leadership roles that come with seniority and help the team reach its full potential.

On the other end of the spectrum, 15 freshmen are beginning their careers as Florida Gators. Like Jordan stated earlier, these girls know what Florida Gator soccer is all about and will jump at the opportunity to immediately contribute.

In addition to a crop of spectacular freshmen, Florida also adds a star transfer from the University of Georgia.

Gabby Seiler started all 20 games for the Bulldogs as a sophomore and led the team with nine goals, nine assists and 27 total points. The addition of Seiler is huge for Florida, as she provides another scoring threat to complement both Jordan and Sharp from the midfielder position.

She may indeed be the missing piece that the Gators need to win a National Championship.

Of course, I can’t forget about head coach Becky Burleigh.

Entering her 21st year at the University of Florida, Burleigh has established a culture of winning that all her players have bought into throughout the years. With her at the helm once again, Florida’s talent will be efficiently utilized in whichever way results in a victory.

Besides a preview of the roster, I want to take a quick look at some of the big games to watch for the Gators in 2015.

  • @UCF (Aug. 21)
    • The Golden Knights beat Florida 2-0 in a preseason game in 2013 and finished ranked No. 17 in the polls
  • Florida State (Aug. 30)
    • FSU is the reigning National Champion and Florida was the only school to defeat them in 2014 with an exhilarating 2-1 victory in Tallahassee to end FSU’s 38-game home winning streak.
  • Texas A&M (Sept. 10)
    • Texas A&M is the reigning SEC regular season and tournament champions and finished ranked No. 2 in the polls. Florida defeated them in College Station last year 1-0. This was A&M’s only SEC loss.
  • Kentucky (Oct. 2)
    • Kentucky beat Florida 2-0 in Lexington and was the runner-up in the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats finished ranked No. 18 in the polls.
  • @Tennessee (Oct. 9)
    • Florida beat Tennessee on Senior Day 3-1 but lost to the Vols 5-4 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
  • South Carolina (Oct. 22)
    • South Carolina beat Florida 3-2 in Columbia and finished ranked No. 10 in the polls.

The Florida Gators have a long road ahead of them, but they also have a coach and players ready for a journey.

The season starts in less than a month on Aug. 11 against Troy at James G. Pressly Stadium.

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