UF soccer into 2nd round at NCAAs

Florida's Jillian Graff and Lindsay Thompson celebrate after Thompson scored a goal against Florida Gulf Coast during the first round of the NCAA tournament at James G. Pressly Stadium on Saturday. The Gators defeated the Eagles, 3-0.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 12:08 a.m.

Senior Tahnai Annis made sure she got the Florida soccer team headed in the right direction in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Getting three goals — all on headers, including two by Annis — the 20th-ranked Gators advanced to the second round for the sixth straight season, downing Florida Gulf Coast 3-0 before a James G. Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,025 Saturday night.

“The main objective going into tonight was to advance, and we did that,” UF head coach Becky Burleigh said. “But probably more important than that for us was just to start off this postseason doing some of the things that we really emphasized like bringing a really strong defensive presence and executing when we can execute offensively. Tonight was a pretty good example of that.”

The Gators (17-7), a No. 2 regional seed, took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when junior Erika Tymrak took a corner kick that was deflected back to her by an FGCU defender. Tymrak sent a hard cross into the FGCU box that Annis timed perfectly with a low header past Eagles' goalkeeper Stephanie Powers from five yards out for the game's first goal.

The score remained 1-0 until midway through the second half when freshman Annie Speese's corner kick was punched home by another perfectly timed Annis' header in the 68th minute, this one from 10 yards out.

Senior forward Lindsay Thompson closed the scoring in the 80th minute off yet another header, with Annis and Speese both netting assists on the play.

“This is my last go-round, so I want to go all out,” Annis said. “We have a special team, and I just don't want us to waste the opportunity that we have to express ourselves and express our talent and how much we care about this game and care about this team.”

Because the NCAA altered the format for this year's tournament, the Gators will host the next two rounds of play, beginning with a double-header this Friday. No. 3 seed North Carolina (12-5-1) will tackle Baylor (15-3-3) at 4:30 p.m., followed by Florida taking on UCF at 7. The Knights (12-4-5) advanced with a 2-0 win over FIU.

The two winners will meet Sunday at a time to be determined with an NCAA quarterfinal berth on the line.

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