Gator Soccer Earns Share of SEC Title With Win Over Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. – The tricks and treats went to the Florida soccer team on the evening of Halloween as the Gators won a share of the Southeastern Conference title with a 5-1 win over Georgia in front of a crowd of 1,137 at the UGA Soccer Stadium/Turner Soccer Complex.
An unusual goal put the Gators up in the 16th minute. Sophomore Christen Westphal<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/westphal_christen.php>’s 40-yard free kick went over the Bulldog goalkeeper’s head and bounced untouched into the goal. Florida scored again in the opening half when junior Havana Solaun<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/solaun_havana.php> played a ball to freshman Savannah Jordan<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/Jordan_Savannah.php> just at the top of the Georgia defensive third. Jordan beat her defender to place the ball in from 14-yards. Later in the half, Solaun took advantage of a Bulldog defensive miscue. The ball was played shallow by the UGA goalkeeper and Solaun recovered the ball to place it in the empty goal. Florida’s final goal of the half came when Jordan headed in a Solaun corner kick to the far corner.
With two goals in the opening half, Jordan ups her season total to 20 – one more than Abby Wambach<http://www.gatorzone.com/soccer/bios.php?year=2001&bio=wambach.html> in her freshman season with the Gators in 1998.
The Bulldogs ended the Gators’ shutout streak with a goal by Madeline Barker in the 50th minute. Florida entered the match with on a six-match shutout streak and the Bulldog goal in the 50th minutes stopped the shutout streak at 609 minutes.
The lead was pushed back out the four in the 65th minute when junior Annie Speese<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/speese_annie.php> successfully converted a penalty kick after the Bulldogs were whistled for a handball in the box.
GATOR PERFORMANCE NOTES:
· Jordan now has seven multi-goal matches – scoring twice versus Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, Alabama, Minnesota and Florida Gulf Coast and posting a hat-trick versus Oregon State.
· Solaun turns in a goal and two assist in Thursday’s win to match her season-high match total of points (4)
· Westphal, who registered her first assist of the season Sunday in the 2-0 win over Texas A&M, now has registered her first collegiate goal.
RECORDS: Florida (15-3-1, 9-2 SEC); Georgia (12-6-1, 5-5-1 SEC).
THE SERIES: Florida leads the series 25-2-1all-time.
On winning the SEC title:
“It never gets old. It was an exciting finish. Thirteen is my lucky number and it is 2013 and this is our 13th title so I’m all down with that.
“I think we had a little adversity at the beginning of this game but the team managed to battle through that. We scored against the run of play early and then kept scoring. It was good for us to show some relentlessness in this game and that is exactly what happened.” – Florida coach Becky Burleigh
On Christen Westphal’s free-kick goal:
“She put that ball in the right place. It is a difficult ball. We call that the ‘corridor of indecision’ when you put the ball in there. The keeper has to decide whether to come or not and it is not always easy. It was a great ball by her.” – Florida coach Becky Burleigh
On her free kick goal
“It wasn’t intended to be a goal – it was intended to be a cross, but I’ll take it.” – sophomore defender Christen Westphal
On her first goal:
“Our midfielders did a great job of winning the ball back. Havana (Solaun) got it and played a great ball first time. I got it, fought though my defenders and put it in.” – freshman forward Savannah Jordan
On her second goal:
“It was off Havana’s assist. It was a great corner kick. I jumped up and won the header and scored the goal.” – freshman forward Savannah Jordan
On the Gators winning a share of the SEC title:
“It is very exciting. We work all season toward small goals at a time. We took this whole season one game at a time. To see all our hard work payoff is a nice feeling. As a team we set the goals so it is always nice to reach those goals.” – junior midfielder Havana Solaun
On her goal:
“It is always nice to help my team to the win. It was kind of an open net so it was an easier finish. Tessa (Andujar) sent a ball over the top to Savannah and Savannah pressured the keeper. She was at the top of the 18 and the keeper cleared it to me. I was probably 30 yards out. It was literally an open net – the defenders were all pulled to the side so I just took a touch and placed it in.” – junior midfielder Havana Solaun
Florida was picked to finish second in the preseason coaches vote – wins by Florida and Texas A&M Thursday gives the two teams a share the 2013 regular-season title…the Gators will be the No. 1 seed for next week’s SEC Tournament as they win the tie-breaker over Texas A&M (based on head-to-head meeting)…five goals is Florida’s top goal total of 2013 – previous high of four goals came at FIU and at Mississippi…the five goals equals the Gators’ highest offensive output versus Georgia in the 28 all-time meetings (Florida defeated Georgia 5-0 in Athens in 1997)…Jordan’s 20 goals places her second all-time among Gator freshman…Andi Sellers leads with 23 goals as a freshman in 1997, followed by Jordan (20) and Wambach (19 in 1998)…in 2013, three Gators have turned in a total of 10 multi-goal matches (Jordan – 7, Solaun – 2, Lauren Smith 1)…Florida is now 4-0 in matches played on Halloween.
Florida is ranked No. 6 on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)<http://www.nscaatv.com/rankings/2719/NCAADivisionI/women/National/Poll10> poll.
The Gators head to Orange Beach, Ala. The Gators open play on Wednesday. Match time is set for 6 p.m. ET at the Orange Beach SportsPlex<http://obparksandrec.com/eventscalendarlist/secsoccerchampionship.html>.
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