Notebook: UF soccer enhances position in SEC standings
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 10:48 p.m.
UF (12-3-1, 6-2) had its best weekend of the season with a pair of 3-0 home wins over No. 18 Kentucky and No. 25 LSU to move into a tie for second place with three matches remaining.
“It was a big weekend for us,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We really needed the six points (three for each win), and we got 'em.”
Next up is Friday's road game at Tennessee (7 p.m.) that kicks off a split weekend for the Gators, who will return home to face league-leading Texas A&M (12-3-1, 7-1) at Pressly Stadium Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Lady Vols (7-6-3, 2-4-2), in a battle to make the SEC Tournament, have given UF fits in Knoxville. The Gators are winless (0-5-1) in their last six visits to Rocky Top, last winning in 1999.
“Just like last weekend was a big weekend, this coming one is a big one as well,” Burleigh said.
In related news, sophomore midfielder Lauren Smith from Eustis was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after helping anchor a strong Gator effort in UF's two shutouts and adding two goals in Friday's win over Kentucky.
Second-ranked UF had its 13-match win streak halted at No. 18 Missouri Sunday as the Tigers remained unbeaten and took sole possession of first place in the SEC with a 3-1 win.
The match was extremely close, with the first three sets all ending in 25-23 scores, two of them in Missouri's favor. The Tigers (23-0, 7-0), who moved up to No. 11 while UF slipped to No. 5 in this week's AVCA poll, sealed the win with a 25-18 win in set four.
“They're a very good blocking team, and we knew that going in,” coach Mary Wise said. “We just did not pass at the level that has sustained us for so much of the season. That would be true of any volleyball team. ... If you don't pass well, your team becomes very average.”
UF (18-2, 7-1), which opened the road trip with a 3-1 win over Arkansas, hosts Auburn (12-7, 3-4) Friday at 7 p.m. and Tennessee (8-13, 0-7) Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
The UF men and women competed at the tough Wisconsin Adidas Invitational Saturday where seniors Mark Parrish and Agata Strausa led the way for their respective teams with impressive efforts.
Parrish finished 11th individually in a field of 288 athletes and set a new UF school 8K record in the process, finishing the course in 23:34 to eclipse former standout Jeremy Criscione's existing mark of 23:35 (2008) by one second.
Strausa was UF's top women's finisher, placing 26th overall in a personal-best 6K time of 20:18 that ranks No. 6 all-time at UF.
Both teams placed 22nd overall among a huge field loaded with ranked squads.
“This is arguably the most competitive cross country meet held outside of the NCAA Championships,” coach Paul Spangler said. “We had some great individual performances.”
Swimming & Diving
The UF men and women both defeated Missouri last week in their opening SEC dual meets of the year.
The men (2-0, 1-0) won 169-130 and were led by sophomore Corey Main, who had his hand in four victories, while senior and two-time U. S. Olympian Elizabeth Beisel won a pair of races and was second in another in leading the women to a 181-109 victory.
The women (1-1, 1-0) then traveled to face California in a two-day dual meet and came away just short of upsetting the Bears, losing by a 238-210 margin.
“They have five Olympians on the team including Missy Franklin, who is probably the best female swimmer in the U.S. in the last 10-15 years,” associate head coach Anthony Nesty said. “It was a good showing by the Gators, going all the way out to the West Coast and almost beating one of the best teams in the country.”
Less than three weeks remain before UF opens its 40th season of varsity competition against Bethune-Cookman in the O'Connell Center Nov. 1, and coach Amanda Butler has already seen some positives from her latest squad.
The Gators will hold their first closed scrimmage Saturday.
“We've had a couple of weeks of really, really good practice,” Butler said. “I've been pleased with the progress we've seen and the way that we've handled all the different things that have been thrown our way already and are just really excited about the momentum that we're building in practice.
“I've been really pleased with our leadership, the effort and the intensity of practice, the focus – all those intangible coaching words that we like to throw around.”