UF soccer hits the road
Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.
The Florida soccer team won its NCAA Tournament opener at home, but from here on out, the Gators will have to be road warriors.
The quest continues Friday when sixth-ranked UF (18-4-1), a No. 2 seed, travels to Durham, N.C., to face Duke (8-8-5), one of eight programs chosen to host second- and third-round NCAA matches, at 7:30 p.m.
“Duke is a team we are really familiar with,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “We play them just about every spring and every other fall, so they know us and we know them. We expect a really good match.”
Both the Gators and Blue Devils are making their 11th consecutive NCAA appearance.
UF advanced with a 2-0 victory over Jacksonville, while Duke took a 4-3 road win on penalty kicks over Colorado College after the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in double overtime.
Joining the Gators in Durham on the other side of the bracket will be another SEC team in Arkansas. The Razorbacks (14-8), who knocked off homestanding Oklahoma State 2-1, will take on St. John's (12-5-3), a 3-1 upset winner on the road over No. 3 seed Central Florida, in the first of two games Friday at 5 p.m.
The two winners will meet Sunday at 1 p.m., with an NCAA quarterfinal berth on the line.
Florida has not advanced to the quarterfinals since 2003.
The Gators, who are off to a 3-1 start, have just one game this week, but it's a big one.
Rival Florida State comes to the O'Connell for a double-header with UF Thursday, with the women's game tipping off at 5 p.m. before the men's teams tangle at 7:30.
Florida, coming off an 83-62 road win over Kennesaw State on Sunday, will be looking to avenge a 98-67 blowout loss to the Seminoles (3-0) in Tallahassee last season.
“It was probably the worst game we played all year,” coach Amanda Butler said. “But we were also a very different team last year.
“We're finding out more and more about ourselves and have a very good Florida State team coming in here on Thursday, so we've got three days to get ready and change some things, work on some things, keep building on the things that are going well, and do all that we can to prepare for that battle.”
Butler continues to prepare for the future as well as she recently announced the signing of four prep standouts in guards Dyandria “Dee” Anderson (Melbourne, Fla.) and Isis Young (Berlin, N.J.) and forwards Brooke Copeland (Cleveland, Tenn.) and Haley Lorenzen (Iowa City, Iowa).
The class is rated No. 11 in the country (ESPN).
A quirky schedule that had No. 5 UF playing five games in 10 days, including consecutive midweek matches in addition to the regular weekend slate, winds up this week when the Gators (24-3, 13-2) take on Tennessee (9-19, 1-13) on the road Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. before returning home to face LSU on Senior Night Friday at 7.
“We've never had a schedule where we’ve played Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Wednesday, Friday,” coach Mary Wise said. “It just hasn't happened.
“With expansion of the league, this was a schedule that had to be put together quickly, and in the future we won't have to have this challenge.”
Wise credited sophomore outside hitters Gabby Mallette and Ziva Recek for their recent play.
“Ziva's been hitting the ball very well the past few weeks, and Gabby had a great weekend,” she said.
SWIMMING & DIVING
The top-ranked UF men and fourth-ranked women cap their fall seasons this weekend at the Buckeye Invitational, a five-team, three-day competition that follows the NCAA Championship format.
Joining Florida and host Ohio State will be teams from Purdue, Virginia and Kentucky.
“It's a great chance to see how people step up in a three-day format and how well they do,” coach Gregg Troy said. “They'll get to swim twice each day if they swim well in the morning. It's going to force them into stepping up and performing early in the day, and then come back at night in a real finals situation.”