Tymrak hits next gear for UF soccer heading into NCAA's
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 9:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 9:00 p.m.
As good as senior All-America Erika Tymrak has been throughout her career, she has taken her impressive skills and dogged determination to another level heading into her final NCAA Tournament.
■ Florida Gulf Coast at Florida, 3 p.m.
■ James G. Pressly Stadium
■ Radio: AM-850
That does not bode well for Florida's opposition, beginning with Friday's first-round opponent, Florida Gulf Coast, who squares off with UF at 3 p.m. at Pressly Stadium.
Tymrak is coming off a dominating performance in leading Florida (17-4-1) to the SEC Tournament crown, earning MVP honors for the second time in her career after scoring a goal in each of the Gators' three tournament wins and adding three assists.
“I think what was so exciting about watching her play in the tournament was the stuff that she did,” UF head coach Becky Burleigh said. “She's very capable of being such a dramatic individual player, but the stuff that she did in that tournament was really simple and effective. Her distribution was excellent, and her taking chances when she had them was excellent.
“It was just so relaxed and controlled and yet so effective.”
Earlier, Tymrak picked up her third consecutive All-SEC first-team honor and became the first Gator to be named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year since the league began announcing Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in 2005.
Despite missing three games this season with an ankle injury, Tymrak leads the team in goals (8), assists (10) and points (26). With her goal and two assists in the tournament-clinching 3-0 win over Auburn on Sunday, she has 100 career points (31 goals, 38 assists) and ranks fourth on UF's career charts in assists, sixth in points and eighth in goals.
“I think that when a player gets a lot of goals or accolades, you've got to credit the team for that because it's a result of all of the team doing work,” Tymrak said. “I scored in every game (at SEC Tourney), but then again Havana (Solaun) set me up or somebody else set me up every time. They were awesome balls and all I had to do was finish.”
The Gators have accomplished their first two goals — winning the SEC regular-season and tourney titles. Now, the focus is on ending a three-year streak of second-round NCAA losses.
But first things first, beginning with the Eagles (14-3-3), who are making their second NCAA postseason appearance and fell to UF, 3-0, last year in their initial foray.
“We're really excited,” Tymrak said. “Obviously winning the SEC Tournament gave us a little confidence boost, and not only that, it helps us get to the final step where we need to be where we actually play ninety minutes. We just have to remember it's one game at a time and focus on that.”
The Gators also are happy to be back on the Pressly Stadium pitch, where they have reeled off eight consecutive home wins since dropping the season opener to Miami.
“It's great to be back here at our field,” Tymrak said. “We love playing there and we know the fans are going to be great and the atmosphere is going to be incredible.”
Tickets for Friday's match are $7 for adults and $3 for children up to age 12 and senior citizens. They will be available at the Pressly Stadium ticket window beginning at 1:30 p.m.
“I'm really excited about the way that we're playing right now,”Burleigh said. “I think we did a terrific job at the SEC Tournament of limiting teams' opportunities while at the same time creating a ton of our own, and that's where we want to be this time of the year. It's a lot of focus on us right now just continuing to refine some of the things we're trying to do as opposed to focusing on our opponents.”