Revenge is a key for the Gators, who lost to Florida State in their season opener.
By DEBI JONES
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000
GAINESVILLE -- The Florida women's soccer team has been waiting for this all season.
The Gators (16-7), who lost to Florida State in their season opener, face the Seminoles (13-7-3) this afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"There is nothing more fun than playing a team during the post-season that you lost to during the regular season," Florida forward Abby Wambach said. "FSU has had a really great season, and they have beaten some really top-notch teams."
Florida has a 13-1 record over its last 14 matches and won its fifth consecutive Southeastern Conference title.
Like last season, today's match is the Gators' first of the tournament. They received a bye each year.
While Florida had a few days off, FSU defeated Jacksonville 2-0 Wednesday night.
"The bye gave us a couple days off, which is key," Florida coach Becky Burleigh said. "And being at home also helps because we are not having to travel."
The Gators' extra time off is not the only advantage they expect to have today.
During FSU's 3-2 victory in Tallahassee, Florida was without starters Danielle Murphy, a defender, and Wambach, who were sidelined because of disciplinary reasons.
"There are a lot of things that could be the differencemaker," Burleigh said. "We are a lot better team, but I'm sure FSU has improved a lot over the season as well. Certainly having those two players back helps."
FSU coach Patrick Baker said: "They are a very good team. Florida has won a lot of games down the stretch this season and they are playing with a huge amount of confidence. We have to go to their home and it will be a big challenge for us."
This is the Seminoles' first NCAA Tournament appearance; the Gators are making their fifth.
Tournament experience, however, did not help the then-defending national champion Gators last season when they lost to Hartford in the second round in Gainesville.
"I think it will be a motivation factor, and I also think it was learning experience," Florida forward Andi Sellers said. "We had a really good season last season, and we felt really good about the record we had. I think it's just a learning factor with us remembering that we really have to stay focused."
The teams are 3-2 versus common opponents. UF is 3-7 against nationally ranked teams and FSU is 3-4.
The match can be heard live on the Internet at GatorZone.com. The victor meets the winner of the Duke-Clemson match played late Saturday night.
WHAT: NCAA women's soccer tournament second round.
WHEN/WHERE: 2 p.m. today, Gainesville.
COACHES: FSU -- Patrick Baker (22-17-3 at FSU; 109-75-12 overall); Florida -- Becky Burleigh (119-20-3 at UF; 201-43-9).
KEY PLAYERS: FSU -- Emma Breland, M/F, Fr. (12 goals, 7 assists); April Murphy, F, Sr. (2 goals, 2 assists).
Florida -- Abby Wambach, F, Jr. (1.15 goals per game); Andi Sellers, F, Jr. (2.27 goals per game avg.); Jordan Kellgren, GK, So. (104 saves and 6.3 shutouts).
NOTES: Florida is making its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance; FSU is making its first. The Gators won their fifth consecutive SEC Tournament. Florida State has scored four goals against the Gators in series history.