Athletic notebook: UF soccer team ready for tourney
Published: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:13 p.m.
The first SEC title of the 2010-11 academic year is in the Florida bag courtesy of the No. 8 soccer team, which claimed its fifth straight regular-season crown with a 1-0 road win over No. 17 South Carolina last Friday.
Senior defender Nikki Kit's goal on a free kick just seconds before halftime was the difference maker as UF won its 11th overall SEC title in 16 seasons under coach Becky Burleigh. Monday, Kit was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week as well as CollegeSoccer360.com's Primetime Player of the Week.
The Gators (15-2-2, 9-1-1) now head to Orange Beach, Ala., for the SEC Tournament where, as the No. 1 seed, they will begin play against No. 8 seed Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“This is a really tough stretch in the soccer season,” Burleigh said. “Even though the regular season is over, this is where you really have to make sure you're on top of your game. For us, it's an important thing to win the SEC Tournament. We haven't won that since 2007, so there's a little bit of a pride factor involved. It's a big deal for us.”
Wednesday's match will be broadcast live by AM 850.
Top-ranked UF (20-1, 13-0) ran its winning streak to 15 straight matches with a pair of 3-0 SEC wins over South Carolina and Ole Miss last week. Next up, coach Mary Wise's squad takes to the road for matches against Georgia and Auburn on Friday and Sunday, respectively, with Sunday's match carried live on CSS.
“I think the main thing we saw last week from our team was a very focused performance by lots of different players and the team combined,” Wise said. “Just the fact that we could beat South Carolina in three on Wednesday night and then, with the fast turnaround, beat Ole Miss, a team that had been undefeated at home. They had a great crowd, but our team was into it. They brought their A game.”
Juniors Kelly Murphy and Cassandra Anderson were named the SEC's Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, for their performances.
Swimming and Diving
UF split a dual meet on the road at Georgia last week in the SEC openers for both programs, with the Gator men claiming the win while the women, who did not have the services of junior All-America Teresa Crippen, lost. Crippen was attending the funeral of her brother, Fran, an Olympic swimmer who died during a race last month.
“It was a great performance by the men Friday against a very good Georgia team,” said coach Gregg Troy. “It was a very emotional week for the women, and they had a hard time getting started.”
Reigning NCAA Male Swimmer of the Year Conor Dwyer led the UF men by winning the 200-, 500- and 1,000-meter freestyle events, all in times that presently rank No. 1 in the NCAA.
This week, UF will split the squads as the women travel to Stanford for a tri-meet with the Cardinal and Michigan on Friday-Saturday while the men will take on LSU Thursday in Baton Rouge.
The countdown is on for coach Amanda Butler's Gators, who open the season Nov. 13 with a first-round Preseason NIT matchup at home against UCF.
“Certainly we are very aware of the countdown — it's closing in on us very quickly,” Butler said. “We had a great weekend of practice. We got through some things on Saturday and then had our first closed scrimmage on Sunday and saw some great individual performances, especially from our younger players.”
Butler credited returnees Azania Stewart and Jordan Jones as well as freshmen Deaundra Young and Kayla Lewis as standing out in Sunday's scrimmage.
Coach Roland Thornqvist will accompany four UF players — sophomore Allie Will and freshmen Alex Cercone, Olivia Janowicz and Sofie Oyen — to Flushing Meadows, N.Y., for the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships Thursday-Sunday.
The remaining members of the squad will be in action at home in the Gator Fall Classic on Friday-Sunday, where they will take on players from FSU, USF and FIU in Florida's lone home fall appearance.
“So far in the fall, we've had outstanding performances,” said Thornqvist. “In my ten years here, this is probably the best fall performance and improvement I've seen.”
The No. 25 Gators will travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to be part of the inaugural SEC/Pac-10 Challenge beginning Friday at the Stanford Golf Course.
While the team has been idle tournament-wise since Oct. 10, sophomore Mia Piccio represented the Philippines in the 2010 World Amateur Golf Team Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and placed 48th overall to lead her country to an eighth-place finish, its best in history.
“For her to be on that team was a pretty big honor,” said Dowling. “We're very proud of her. A top-50 finish in the world is pretty impressive.”