Florida soccer returns home to host to FIU

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 12:16 a.m.

The preseason picks to claim their conference titles – No. 22 Florida and Florida International – meet Sunday at the James G. Pressly Stadium. Match time is 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2.

It is “Green Night” at Gator soccer and the first 500 fans receive “Gators Go Green” recycle totes. Florida will sign autographs post-match so plan to stick around post-match to get a poster signed by all the Gators.

Both teams come into Sunday’s match off of 1-0 road losses versus instate rivals. Florida dropped a hard-fought 1-0 decision at No. 1 Florida State Friday in front of the Seminoles’ second-largest crowd ever of 2,243 at the Florida State Soccer Complex. A header off a long throw-in scored the Seminoles’ goal in the 10th minute when Kristin Grubka flicked the ball back to the far post. The Gators had several dangerous chances, including an equalizer goal by sophomore Havana Solaun waved off with an offsides call early in the second half.

The previous weekend, Florida was undefeated in play at the Nike Carolina Classic. The Gators and No. 14 North Carolina played to a scoreless tie on Aug. 24. On Aug. 26, Florida overcame a two-goal deficit to upset then No. 2 Duke 3-2 OT. A Gator goal was scored in each period, as sophomore Jillian Graff put UF on the board in the 39th minute. A cross by Erika Tymrak in the 64th minute resulted in a Duke own goal to tie the score. The match was pushed to overtime and it was Tymrak who scored off the give-and-go with fellow senior McKenzie Barney to give Florida the win the 93rd minute. It was Florida’s first win versus the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) No. 2 team since its 1-0 defeat of Santa Clara in 1998 NCAA College Cup semifinal action.

Two Gators earned honors for their play at the Nike Carolina Classic. Tymrak is the national player of the week selection by three outlets – Disney Soccer/NSCAA, Soccer America and CollegeSoccer360.com. She also claimed the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor. Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Burke is the College Sports Madness National Defensive Player of the Week.

Florida International lost its first road match of the season Friday at Florida Gulf Coast. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage delivered a career-high 11 saves, but a goal by Florida Gulf Coast in the 64th minute put FIU on the losing end at the match held at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Panthers posted a 13-7-3 record in 2011 and advanced to the NCAA First Round. FIU opened the 2012 season with home wins over Stetson (4-0) and Jacksonville (2-1). The Aug. 26 match versus Morehead State was canceled due to weather. Coach Thomas Chestnutt worked with the Gator soccer team as a student coach from 2001-04 while he was working toward his Ph.D. in environmental engineering at UF.

Florida is the preseason pick by the Southeastern Conference coaches to claim the 2012 league title. Florida earned 10 first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. League newcomer Texas A&M took the other four first-place votes. The Gators have won 11 SEC titles since the program started in 1995. Florida International is the Sun Belt Conference’s pick to win the league title in 2012. The Panthers claimed the SBC Championship in 2011 – its first since 2000.

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