Midway through the second half, with UNC leading 3-2, a yellow card against Serpe sent her to the sidelines for a two-minute penalty period.
With one of its strongest defenders out of the game, UNC allowed two Florida goals that allowed the Gators to tie the game and then take the lead at 4-3.
“I think the way we play, we just try and play a physical game, and it just happened to be that that goal after I got the penalty, they started their rally,” Serpe said.
UNC was not the only team whose defense showed up prepared to play physically. Levy said Florida’s defense deserved credit as well.
“Defensively, we did great,” she said. “We did well between the lines. I just think on offense, credit their goalkeeper. She made some really nice saves. Everything she did, she dropped her knees and we shot the ball low.”
After UNC jumped to a quick 3-0 lead, Florida’s defense was forced to adjust. Junior Abbey Friend netted two goals in the first five minutes. Just three minutes later, UNC had taken a 3-0 lead, forcing the Gators to call a timeout.
Friend said Florida’s ability to adjust defensively kept her from being as effective later on as she had been in the game’s opening minutes.
“We didn’t really necessarily stick to our game plan, so we kind of slowed the ball down a little bit and let them get into a rhythm defensively,” Friend said.
“They kind of stopped us a little bit.”
Friend also credited her own team’s defense.
“We really like to have the defense do their stuff — get the ball back, which they do all the time, and then use our speed in the midfield,” she said.
“I think we did a really good job of that the first half, so we just have to execute throughout the whole entire game.”
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