Gators play for soccer final four


The Florida soccer team has the extra motivation of getting payback against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., today in NCAA tournament quarterfinal action starting at 6 p.m.

Today’s winner advances to the semifinals (soccer’s Final Four) set for Dec. 1 and Dec. 3 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando.

South Carolina (18-2-1), the regional top seed, used a 1-0 win in the regular-season finale at Florida’s Dizney Stadium on Oct. 26 to claim the program’s second consecutive SEC regular-season title. The goal came in the 80th minute. Elexa Bahr received the ball from Savannah McCaskill and moved through the top of the box to score from 12 yards.

It was the sixth consecutive time a single goal decided a match between these two programs. Each of the last three meetings were 1-0 wins, as the two teams split in 2016 regular season (SC win) and SEC Tournament action (UF win).

The Gators (17-6), the No. 3 regional seed, would love nothing more than to advance to their first trip to the national semifinals since 2001 at South Carolina’s expense at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium.

“It’s absolutely perfect. It’s exactly what we want,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said of another shot at the Gamecocks. “We just continue to grow in different ways. That, to me, is the most exciting part of it. I don’t think we’re done yet. It really is amazing to watch.

“Nothing has really come easy this season and that has made this team more battle tested than teams in the past. We have plugged away and playing through those experiences has given us confidence we can handle anything thrown at us.”

The match can be heard on AM850 and 98.1-FM.

In other quarterfinals, Penn State plays at Stanford, Baylor is at Duke and Princeton plays at UCLA.