Notebook: Tymrak shines for soccer team
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.
Welcome back Erika Tymrak.
The senior All-American from Bradenton, who had been out of action since suffering a sprained left ankle just prior to halftime of the Tennessee game Sept. 21, returned to the pitch this past weekend and was instrumental in a pair of big Southeastern Conference road wins for 18th-ranked Florida.
Tymrak had the game-winning goal Friday against LSU, breaking a scoreless tie in the match's 74th minute, and UF went on to post a 2-0 win over the Tigers.
She then had an assist on Adriana Leon's game-winner Sunday as the Gators upset fifth-ranked Texas A&M, 2-1, handing the Aggies (12-2-1, 6-1-1) their first SEC loss while ending A&M's 12-match unbeaten streak and 18-match home unbeaten streak.
“That's a great addition for us to have back,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We definitely missed her when she was gone.
“I was happy that she got a little bit of playing time on Friday night to sort of get back in the flow of things and not have to jump right into a game like Texas A&M, but she obviously made an impact on the weekend. She's an integral part of our success.”
Tymrak was named the SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, sharing the honor with Missouri's Alyssa Diggs.
The Gators (10-3-1, 7-1) have won seven straight matches and now share the top spot in the SEC East and overall with 16th-ranked Missouri (12-2, 7-1), whom the Gators host Friday night at 7 at Pressly Stadium in a televised (SUN Sports) match. It will be “Kicking for the Cure” match in support of the fight against breast cancer, and there will be fireworks afterward.
Mississippi State visits Sunday at 2 p.m. for UF's regular-season home finale. It will be Senior Day, with the Gators honoring Tymrak and fellow seniors McKenzie Barney, Holly King, Jo Dragotta and Kathryn Williamson in a pre-match ceremony.
The 11th-ranked Gators continue their season-long four-match homestand with games against Ole Miss and Auburn this weekend.
Coach Mary Wise's squad is coming off a big weekend in the O'Connell Center in which they took down SEC foes Arkansas and Kentucky, sweeping the Razorbacks 3-0 Friday night and then rallying from an 0-2 deficit to top the Wildcats, 3-2, Sunday in a five-set thriller.
UF had posted road wins over both squads earlier in the season, but both came to the O-Dome on four-match winning streaks.
“Going into it, both teams had really been playing well, and so we felt this was going to be a huge test for us,” Wise said. “Fortunately we passed it, although Sunday you could argue that we passed it by the skin of our teeth.”
Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after posting match-high marks for kills against Arkansas (13) and Kentucky (19).
The Gators (13-2, 7-0), who have won 10 matches in a row, lead the SEC overall and East Division standings and are the only team unbeaten in league play.
Friday's match against Ole Miss (8-8, 2-5) is set for 7 p.m., with Sunday's match against Auburn (13-4, 4-3), which will be televised by Fox Sports Florida, starting at 1:30 p.m.
Florida senior Lauren Embree won her first national singles title Sunday by winning a three-setter in the final of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships at the Riviera Tennis in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Embree topped Virginia Julia Elbaba by rallying for the 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, win to capture the first Grand Slam title of her career.
“It feels great and special to win this my senior year,” Embree said. “I think I played a little nervous in the first set and (Elbaba) was just teeing off on my shots. Then I started being more aggressive and just kept fighting and hanging in there. She’s a great player and a tough competitor.”
In three meets to date, both the UF men and women have finished first in the team standings on every occasion.
The competition steps up a level for the rest of the year, however, beginning with Saturday's Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky.
The meet, which will draw more than 50 teams, will take place at the same site as the 2012 NCAA Championships Nov. 17, and first-year UF coach Paul Spangler is anxious to see how his squads fare.
“It's a chance for teams to preview the course the national championships will be on later this year,” Spangler said. “But it's also a chance to compete against other nationally-ranked teams. There will be about 15 of the top 30 teams in the country there, so this will be an opportunity for us to see how we match up against those other nationally-ranked teams.”