UF athletic notebook: Gators hit road
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.
After opening SEC play with a 3-0 home win over Alabama last Friday, the No. 8 Florida soccer team makes its first SEC road trip this weekend to face Ole Miss and Missouri.
UF (7-1-1, 1-0) plays the Rebels (8-1-1, 1-0) Friday at 8 p.m. and the Tigers (5-4, 1-0) Sunday at 2 p.m.
“We're facing two teams that are difficult to play against,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “Mississippi has one of the great strikers in the country in Rafaelle Souza and a great combination with Mandy McCalla, who is another great player for them. They've had a terrific season so far.
“Then to face Missouri at Missouri — the last time we did that, it was a battle. They play a very, very different style from us. They bring a lot of pressure and are really high energy, so that will be an interesting game just because they're always such a challenge to play against.”
The match with Ole Miss will not only feature a pair of hot teams — UF is unbeaten in its last six matches while the Rebels have won four in a row — but will feature two of the nation's top scorers in Souza (11 goals), a senior and 2012 NSCAA first-team All-South Region selection, and Florida's Savannah Jordan (10 goals), who earned her second SEC Freshman of the Week honors for her two-goal effort in the win over Bama.
Led by Jordan, Florida's freshman class has accounted for 15 of UF's 21 goals this season.
After capping their non-conference schedule with a trio of 3-0 wins that moved them up to No. 3 in the latest AVCA poll and included a midweek sweep of No. 17 FSU before winning the Marquette Invitational over the weekend, the Gators open SEC play with a trip to the Magnolia State this weekend.
Florida (11-1), the defending SEC champ in search of title No. 21 in 23 seasons under coach Mary Wise, faces Mississippi State (9-5) Friday at 8 p.m. and Ole Miss (10-3) Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
“The challenge for us is getting to know their personnel,” said associate head coach Dave Boos, who stood in for Wise at Monday's All-Sports news conference while she was on the road recruiting. “For us, as a staff, we have to prepare our team for the tendencies of those players.
“Ole Miss has some middles that have caused us problems in the past, but Mississippi State has a lot of new faces, so we'll spend a lot of time on video the next couple of days.”
In related news, redshirt junior libero Taylor Unroe, who averaged 4.22 digs per set in UF's three wins and has not registered a reception error in the last seven matches, was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
Swimming and diving
With head coach Gregg Troy and associate head coaches Anthony Nesty (men) and Martyn Wilby (women) on the road recruiting, diving coach Donnie Craine addressed the media Monday concerning UF's season opener this weekend at the Pinch A Penny All Florida Invitational in the O'Connell Center.
Craine, in his 24th consecutive season as diving coach, is the longest-tenured assistant on campus.
“We've got seven different teams from the state coming in,” he said. “This weekend should be a lot of fun.”
There will be morning preliminary sessions each day and finals sessions each evening, with Friday's sessions beginning at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday sessions begin at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Diving will take place about one hour after the morning sessions Friday and Saturday.
Admission is free, and the Gators also will be collecting new and unused items to be sent to deployed U.S. troops in all branches of the service.
Fans are asked to bring their donations during the evening sessions. The first 250 fans who bring donations receive a Pinch A Penny All Florida Invitational military appreciation shirt.
A complete list of acceptable items can be found at www.GatorZone.com.