Gators open NCAA soccer tourney action today

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Florida's Samantha Chung (2) celebrates after she scored the first goal of the game for Florida during the a soccer match against the No. 1 ranked team Stanford, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on the UF campus, in Gainesville, Friday Aug. 25, 2017. The Gators beat Stanford 3-2 to upset the top ranked team. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The first meeting between Florida and South Alabama in soccer is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Over the last four seasons, just one win separates these two programs, as Florida (14-6) is tied for fifth in the nation with 67 wins and South Alabama (14-4-1) is tied for seventh at 66 wins.

Tickets for the match are $7 for adults and $3 for children (12 and under), students and senior citizens. The first 200 UF student showing at Gator1 card are admitted free.

A league-record nine SEC teams are in the NCAA field — Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. That total leads the nation. The ACC follows with eight teams and the Pac-12 sends six. Three SEC teams head into the tournament as top-four regional seeds (No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida) The ACC leads with four regional seeds. The SEC and Pac-12 are next with three each.

South Alabama is led by senior Rio Hardy, the SBC Player of the Year and tournament Most Valuable Player. She shares third in Division I statistics with 16 goals and is fifth with 37 points. Junior Hannah Godfrey is the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. Sophomore Justice Stanford leads the conference with seven shutouts and owns a goals-against-average of 0.87.

“South Alabama is a good team,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “They have a little international flair with some international players on their team and they’ve had a lot of success the last few years.”

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