Gators take No. 18 ranking

Published: Monday, April 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 5, 2002 at 2:02 p.m.

Usually, the Florida soccer team is the top-ranked program in the state.

But two losses to Florida State last year have the Gators looking up to their rivals to start this season.

Florida enters the season ranked 18th, two spots behind the Seminoles, in the preseason National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, released late Wednesday night.

Two-time defending NCAA champion North Carolina tops the poll, followed by UCLA, Portland, Notre Dame and Nebraska.

The Gators, who finished 19th in last season's final poll after a disappointing loss to FSU in the NCAA Tournament, begin with their lowest preseason ranking in four years. They have been ranked top 10 in the preseason the past three years.

Florida, the only ranked SEC school, begins the season Aug. 31 against Utah at Percy Beard Stadium.

In other news, forward Abby Wambach was one of 13 nominees named for the Hermann Trophy, presented to the nation's top soccer player. She finished third in the voting last season.

Wambach, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, recently helped the U.S. Under-21 National Team win its third consecutive Nordic Cup.

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