UF soccer advances in NCAA tourney

Published: Friday, November 12, 2010 at 10:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 12, 2010 at 10:52 p.m.

Tahnai Annis admitted she doesn't typically take shots from 18 yards out, but after receiving a pass early in the second half Friday night against Mercer she surveyed the situation and couldn't resist.

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Florida Gators forward Lindsay Thompson battles for control of the ball against Mercer defender Raschelle Riley during the first half on Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. Florida defeated Mercer 3-0 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

“I took a deep breath and tried to stay composed,” said Annis, a Florida midfielder. “It was one of those balls that felt right when you struck it.”

Annis' shot found the net, as did two from the foot of midfielder McKenzie Barney and Florida, the No. 2 region seed, defeated the Bears 3-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament at James G. Pressly Stadium. Florida (19-2-2) will next play Duke (11-7-3), which claimed a 2-1 win over California on Friday, at home Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We're excited to be moving on to the second round,” Florida coach Becky Burleigh said.

The Gators, who won their fifth straight NCAA first-round match, were clearly superior to the Bears (10-9-1), but Mercer kept it respectable largely behind the play of keeper Cagney Valloch, who made six saves, several by diving for the ball.

Led by Barney, Annis, forward Lindsay Thompson and midfielder Erika Tymrak, Florida's offense was on the attack for much of the match.

Tymrak, the MVP of the recent Southeastern Conference Tournament, assisted both of the Gators' second-half goals. Thompson, like Tymrak, had an assist on Annis' score. Defender Kathryn Williamson contributed a first-half assist, the first of her career.

“All three goals were nice goals,” Burleigh said.

Florida keeper Katie Fraine had two nice saves, but otherwise wasn't challenged much. That's because the Gator defense suffocated the Bears throughout, holding them to two shots on goal and seven shots total.

“They've got a very good team,” Mercer coach Grant Serafy said. “Their speed and athleticism is exceptional and they combine it with some very good technique.”

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