UF soccer falls in NCAAs


Florida's Adriana Leon (91) watches as her shot on goal is caught by Notre Dame goalkeeper Elyse Hight (30) during the third-round regional match in the 2012 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship at James Pressley Stadium on the UF campus, in Gainesville, Sunday Nov. 18, 2012.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 6:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 6:14 p.m.

Experience normally trumps youth when it comes to NCAA postseason play, but this year's Notre Dame team is not buying into that.

The young Fighting Irish, who have 12 freshmen and just two seniors on this year's roster, followed up Friday's 2-1 upset of No. 3 regional seed Wake Forest with a 2-0 win over host and No. 2 seed Florida Sunday in a third-round NCAA regional match at Pressly Stadium before a crowd of 814.

“I'm just extremely proud of this young group of players,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We've had as many as six or seven freshmen starting for us this year, so it's been a big learning curve for us, but I'm really proud of the way they've continued to grow each week.”

The win sends the Fighting Irish (16-5-2), who are in search of their fourth NCAA title and second in the last three years, into Friday's NCAA quarterfinals against No. 1 seed Florida State in Tallahassee with a berth in the 2012 College Cup on the line.

The Seminoles advanced with a 4-0, third-round win over Texas A&M.

The loss, meanwhile, ended a seven-game UF winning streak and marked the end of an outstanding season for the eighth-ranked Gators (19-5-1), who won both the SEC regular-season and tournament titles and reached the third round of NCAA play for the first time since 2008.

“First of all, credit to Notre Dame for coming in and putting two goals in the back of the net,” UF head coach Becky Burleigh said. “That's something that hasn't happened to us in quite some time, so best of luck to them as they advance.”

Florida owned a 14-1 advantage in corner kicks, including a 9-1 edge in the first half. But while none of those 14 UF chances resulted in a goal, the Fighting Irish aced their one attempt that came in the game's 19th minute.

Freshman Brittany Von Reuden's perfectly-placed corner found junior Rebecca Twining all alone in front of the net, and she nailed a short header to put the Fighting Irish up 1-0.

It marked the first time since UF's last loss (1-0 to Alabama Oct. 19) that the Gators found themselves behind.

The score remained tight until sophomore Lauren Bohaboy's rolling shot from 12 yards out just eluded UF sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Burke with less than 20 minutes left to make it 2-0, and it proved too big a hill for the Gators to climb.

“The second goal was really the back-breaker because you feel like when you're chasing one, you're always in it,” Burleigh said. “But I didn't think our team quit or slowed down.”

The Gators did have their chances, the two best of which were a blast by sophomore Annie Speese less than 10 minutes into the match that caromed off the left upright and senior Erika Tymrak's penalty kick from 20 yards out with less than a minute left before halftime that Notre Dame freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight made a leaping, one-hand save on, just tipping the ball over the crossbar.

“Their keeper did come up with some pretty good saves, but I thought we got a little bit away from what we do best, which is keep the ball on the ground and possess,” Burleigh said. “You have to credit Notre Dame for disrupting some of that, but also I think we were just a little bit off.

“The ball would just bounce away from us instead of toward us, the first touch was poor or our pass was a little bit off. Our style of play requires some precision, and we just didn't have that today.”

The loss also ended the careers of UF's five seniors – Tymrak, Kathryn Williamson, McKenzie Barney, Holly King and Jo Dragotta.

“This team has been so unbelievably awesome to work with,” Burleigh said. “It's just been a great experience the whole year, and the suckie part about it is just it ending. This is a group that I just wanted to extend it as long as we could because it was so enjoyable.”

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