Gator Soccer Falls in SEC Tournament Championship, Women's Hoops Downs UNF
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - The Florida soccer team lost 2-1 to Texas A&M in Sunday's Southeastern Conference Tournament championship match held in front of an Orange Beach Sportsplex record crowd of 1,711.
The Aggies, who joined the league for the 2012 season, claimed their first SEC Tournament title in their first final appearance. Texas A&M receives the SEC's automatic berth into the 2013 NCAA Championships' field as the tournament winner. Thirty-one of the NCAA Championships' 64-team field are conference automatic qualifiers.
Sunday's SEC Tournament Final
No. 21 Texas A&M 2, No. 5 Florida 1,
Florida scored first in the 28th minute. Savannah Jordan<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/Jordan_Savannah.php>, from just above the Aggie end line, crossed the ball across the face of the goal. Pamela Begič<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/begic_pamela.php> got just a touch as the ball continued to the far post where Annie Speese<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/speese_annie.php> stuck it in from 10 yards.
The Aggies scored twice in the second half. The first came off the foot of junior Shea Groom in the 56th minute. The game-winner came off an Aggie counter attack in the 83rd minute. Freshman Liz Keester made space at the top of the box and hit the upper slot for her 10th goal of the season.
The Gators did lost junior captain and All-SEC first-team selection Havana Solaun<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/solaun_havana.php> in the 24th minute. She suffered an injury to her right knee and will be examined by UF team physicians when the team returns to Gainesville. Solaun's nine assists leads the Gators and is second in goals (8).
RECORDS: Florida (17-4-1, 9-2 SEC); Texas A&M (17-4-1, 9-2 SEC).
THE SERIES: Texas A&M now leads the series 5-4.
ALL-TOURNAMENT GATORS: Three Gators - Jordan, Solaun and sophomore Christen Westphal<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/westphal_christen.php> - were named to the SEC All-Tournament team. It was the second consecutive SEC All-Tournament appearance for Westphal.
On the Aggies' two second-half goals:
"I think it was more self-induced by us. We did not press them high enough which gave them a little bit of space to play in. Kudos to them for coming back from one down." - Florida coach Becky Burleigh
On junior Havana Solaun being injured in the first half:
"I think psychologically it was difficult when Havana went out but at the same time, I think we did a pretty good job of closing up the first half. In the second half we got a little bit passive and dropped back a little bit too deep to allow them too much play bringing the ball out, which helped them get a little bit of a rhythm and some confidence. We just weren't pressing as high.
"Havana is a really dangerous player for us. She's a great assist person for our team, obviously she's very athletic in the three for us and we're going to feel that loss. We still have very good players on our team and they're just going to have to step up." - Florida coach Becky Burleigh
The difference between today's match and the regular-season meeting:
"The first time we played them, in the second half we sort of solved their pressure. I thought we did that earlier in this game. I thought we did a good job of dealing with their pressure earlier in this game, but in the second half, we just were too passive defensively from the front, not necessarily our back, but from the front." - Florida coach Becky Burleigh
On her goal:
"I believe it was a fast-break because we were flying up the field. The ball got played out wide to Savannah on the right side. She did a great job getting down to the end line and getting the ball played back. A lot of times we talk about putting the ball back across the goal at an angle because everyone's momentum has them moving toward the goal. Pam saw me overlapping her and let the ball go through her legs. I had no other option but to shoot." - junior midfielder Annie Speese
On the loss:
"It is always a learning lesson when you have a loss like this. We are going to watch film and learn from it. Hopefully we can grow from it and get better. We have the NCAA Tournament coming up and we are excited for that." - freshman forward Savannah Jordan
On the loss of the match and the injury to Havana Solaun
"It is was a pretty tough loss for us - not only the championship, but losing our leader (Havana Solaun). We tried to leave it all on the field but it was one of those days. Texas A&M came out to play and we had a hard time dealing with their pressure. Congrats to them for the win - they deserved it today.
"We will move forward from here and get ready for the NCAA Tournament." - junior midfielder Annie Speese
On moving ahead after this loss:
"I think we've shown the ability to bounce back all year. When we lost two games in the SEC back-to-back I think a lot of people counted us out. This group is pretty resilient, so I'm confident that we can bounce back." - Florida coach Becky Burleigh
Speese scored her third goal of the season today, with all coming in the last seven matches...Florida made its 15th SEC Tournament final appearance in the program's 19-year history Sunday...the Gators were looking for their second consecutive and 11th overall SEC Tournament title Sunday...this was the seventh time UF advanced to a SEC Tournament final held at the Orange Beach Sportsplex...the loss ends Florida nine-match win streak...this was the fifth time the tournament's top two seeds (2013, 2010, 2007, 2006, 1999) met in the final since the league went to overall seeds (previously by division) in 1999...Florida and Texas A&M shared the 2013 title with identical league records of 9-2...it was the first regular-season tie in the 21-year history of SEC soccer...the crowd today was second only to the 1997 SEC Tournament final crowd of 2,520 set in the tournament's only appearance in Gainesville.
Florida is ranked No. 5 on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)<http://nscaa.informz.net/z/cjUucD9taT0yNzcxMzA2JnA9MSZ1PTc4NTE1NDg2OSZsaT0xNDk1NzUzOA/index.html> poll and Texas A&M is No. 21.
The Gators return to Gainesville to await Monday's NCAA Championships' announcement. The 64-team field is revealed at 4:30 p.m. ET on NCAA.com<http://www.ncaa.com/>. Florida has advanced to NCAA play 16 times since the program's debut season in 1995.
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