Notebook: UF soccer riding high
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 at 6:28 p.m.
One week after a disappointing 4-1 home loss to Miami in the season opener, the Florida soccer team hit the road and came away unbeaten at the tough Nike Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“Well, first of all, I'm very thankful I didn't have to do this last week,” said a smiling coach Becky Burleigh as she addressed the media during UF's first All-Sports news conference of the year Monday.
“That Miami game was a really disappointing way for us to open up the season. But this weekend, I thought our team showed great resilience and progress from last weekend, which we needed to do. The competition was top-notch, and Carolina put together a great tournament.”
After battling No. 14 North Carolina to a 0-0, 2-OT draw Friday, UF (1-1-1) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to stun No. 2 Duke, the 2011 NCAA runner-up, by a 3-2 score Sunday on senior All-America Erika Tymrak's golden goal in the 93rd minute.
Tymrak, a two-time All-American and two-time, first-team All-SEC selection, was honored Monday as the SEC's Offensive Player of the Week.
Next up, UF travels to Tallahassee on Friday to face another ACC power in No. 3 Florida State before returning home to face FIU on Sunday. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
The Seminoles (2-0), who reached the 2011 College Cup semifinals, are coming off a 1-0 win over No. 9 UCF in Orlando last Friday.
“FSU is super-talented,” Burleigh said. “They've got a great blend of athleticism and some real savvy soccer players with all of their internationals. Probably by the time we play them Friday, they'll be ranked No. 1 in the country, so we'll have our hands full for sure.”
The visiting team has won each of the last four matches, with all four contests decided by one goal.
Coach Mary Wise was definitely upbeat about her new-look team's season-opening performance as host of the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational this past weekend in which the Gators reeled off three consecutive straight-set wins over instate competition en route to taking the team title.
“Looking back on the weekend, we couldn't be more pleased with the production that our team came up with, especially in terms of all that we were dealing with trying out new lineups,” she said. “As late as Friday morning, we were still juggling the lineup to see what it was going to look like with the absence of Noami (Santos-Lamb, torn ACL). Even so, I felt the team responded better than we could have even asked for.”
The competition ratchets up considerably this weekend at the third edition of the Nike Big Four Classic, where No. 18 UF joins No. 2 Texas, No. 6 Stanford and host and No. 3 Penn State.
“We have two different opponents (UF plays Texas on Friday and Stanford on Saturday) against which we're going to have as difficult a time scoring points and finding a way to get the ball to hit the floor than just about anybody we play all season,” Wise said. “But what a great opportunity for us early-on to see where we stand and know that these are the types of matches that will help us down the road.”
SWIMMING AND DIVING
Coach Gregg Troy, who served as head coach for the USA Men's Swimming Team for the 2012 London Olympics, noted it was nice to be back home.
“We're coming off a fantastic summer that more than anything else was wrapping up the 2011-12 season for us,” he said. “We had three Gators medal (ex-Gators Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer and current Gator Elizabeth Beisel) and one guy from Michigan, Peter Vanderkaay, who's been training here the last two years, and they were tremendous.”
A total of 23 current and former UF swimmers competed in the pool in London, winning 11 medals overall.
Beisel, a rising junior, was the top current swimmer, earning two medals.
First-year coach Paul Spangler, who comes to Florida after a 10-year stint at VMI, is excited about his newest opportunity.
The UF men, picked to finish second in the SEC by the league's coaches, and women, picked to finish third, both open the season Friday at the Western Carolina Invitational in Culhowee, N.C.
“I'm very, very pleased with where both programs are right now,” he said. “It's been great coming in here with the resources that we have for the athletes — the training staff, the strength and conditioning staff — I mean everything is just phenomenal.”