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Published 08/22/2014
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Soccer Drops Season Opener to No. 8 Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Miami Hurricanes came out on the wrong end of their season opener Friday night, dropping their matchup with eighth-ranked Florida 3-0 at Pressly Stadium.

"Today we played a fantastic Florida team," head coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. "It was a great challenge for us to learn from some mistakes but also continue to do the things that worked."

On a rain-soaked night in Gainesville that delayed the match by an hour, the upset-minded Hurricanes fought valiantly against a talented Gators side. A miscommunication amongst the Hurricanes backline resulted in a 1-0 Florida lead in the ninth minute, but Miami built some momentum heading into halftime.

The visitors’ most dangerous chance came in the 35th minute on a shot from freshman Grace Rapp that was saved by Gators keeper Taylor Burke. The sequence was jumpstarted on a nice pass from junior Jasmine Paterson.

Rapp, who tallied two goals for Miami in its 3-0 exhibition win over USF, was one of just two freshman starters for the Hurricanes.

Senior goalkeeper Emily Lillard delivered some highlight-reel saves in the opening minutes of the second half, including a diving stop on a clear header attempt from Gators forward Savannah Jordan in the 55th minute. The Kansas native kept Miami in the match with five saves on the night.

A 65th-minute strike from Gators forward Jillian Graff doubled the hosts’ lead, and a successful header by Jordan helped solidify Florida’s lead in the 69th minute.

A number of Hurricanes made successful debuts in the defeat, including a strong offensive performance from junior Natalie Moik and a solid first-half effort from starting forward Ronnie Johnson. Seven field players went the full 90 minutes for the Hurricanes, including all four of Miami’s starting defenders.

"We'll face many teams as we move forward very similar to Florida, so tonight will prepare us for those upcoming matches," Monroe said. "I am proud that our team continued to work hard and fight."

The Hurricanes (0-1) will return to the pitch on Sunday with a matchup against No. 23 UCF. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.