By Jackie Finlan
Central Florida is the unequivocal leader in the South's Sunshine Conference, which pits Florida's DI women colleges against one another, but Florida isn't too far behind. UF has played its two matrix matches against the conference forerunner, losing the first handily 48-17 but then battling to a 31-17 loss weeks later. Yesterday, Florida beat Florida State easily 71-0 and will be competing for that fourth seed to South playoffs against the other two conference's #2 teams, which is likely to include reigning South champion North Carolina.
Florida coach Eric Keys was happy with his team's win this weekend, with the exception of only three conversions slotted. "FSU are young and have some key injuries, but we kept to our pattern and did what we had to in terms of tidying up breakdowns," the coach said.
Both UCF and UF have seen their share of lopsided victories this year, with South Florida produces near 100-point losses, and so the conference leaders find it difficult to refine their games.
"Nobody played poorly and all contributed something to the attack and defense," Keys said of yesterday's win. "Jamie Doone, our No. 8, continues to play well. She is a cut above just about any player I have seen this year in terms of her ability to impact a game. She was a standout."
New scrumhalf Kristen Galvin also played well, scoring two tries off the base of a ruck and another off a scrum. Flyhalf Julie Goild led all try scorers with five-plus tries.
UF is off until March 17 when UMASS travels down for a friendly, and the team ends its regular season against USF on March 26. The play-ins follow, where Florida might have to play North Carolina, which finds itself in the Cardinal Conferene's #2 position after a 26-6 loss to DI newcomer East Carolina earlier in the season. With a game to win against South Carolina this weekend, a game that should produce a win, the road to nationals is a lot longer for the reigning South champ. Five more wins (USF, two at the play-ins, and another two at Souths) lie between UNC and the national round of 16.
In the Wren Conference, it comes down to heavyweights Clemson and Georgia. They've been crushing the opposition, and when the two played each other on February 5, the match produced a 0-0 draw. To put things into perspective, however, Clemson played UNC in a friendly fall match and was shutout 50-0, so it's safe to say that UNC is the favorite for the fourth seed to South Championships.