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    Florida Gators soccer player Savannah Jordan in 2015- GatorCountry photo taken by David Bowie

Florida Gators soccer advances
to the SEC finals

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Written by Andrew Spivey, November 6, 2015, 0 Comments,
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Special report on the Florida Gators soccer team

ORANGE BEACH, Alabama - The University of Florida soccer team is onto the Southeastern Conference Tournament final after a 2-0 win over No. 4 seed Auburn Friday in semifinal action at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.
This will be the Gators' 16th appearance in the SEC Tournament final and first since 2013. The Gators will face two-time defending SEC Tournament champion Texas A&M in Sunday's final, which airs live at 2 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
How the Gators Scored Friday:
An unusual goal from a player known more for her defense and assists put the Gators on the board in the 11th minute. Junior Meggie Dougherty Howard<file:///\\uaadata\Comm\SIDDATA\Soccer\Mary\Soccer%202015\Releases\Two%20Gators%20with%20Double-Digit%20Goals%20Total> was fouled just outside the box and senior Christen Westphal<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/westphal_christen.php> stepped up to take the 19-yard free kick. The two Gators at the end of the wall - Dougherty Howard and Brooke Sharphttp://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/Sharp_Brooke.php> - jumped out of the way of the ball traveling along the ground, and it scored at the far post.

Florida's second goal of the half started deep in the Gator half. From deep in the Florida half, Rachelle Smith<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/smith_rachelle.php> sent the ball up to Westphal. She sent the ball forward to Betsy Middleton<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/middleton_betsy.php> located at the top of the Gators' defensive third. The through ball from Middleton led to a foot race for Savannah Jordan<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/Jordan_Savannah.php>, who passed her defender to bring the ball into the box to beat the goalkeeper with a left-footed shot to the right corner in the 19th minute.

Worth Noting:

*         Tonight's game-winning goal came from Westphal, the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. It is her second goal of the season and the third of her career.

*         Both of Florida's SEC leaders in two offensive categories added to their 2015 totals tonight. The goal by Jordan, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, is her 21st of the season. Westphal was credited with an assist on Jordan's goal - her 12th of the season.

*         Freshman Kaylan Marckese's<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/marckese_kaylan.php> five saves helped the Gators post their fifth shutout of the season and third of the last four outings. On one her saves, Marckese dove low to the right to keep Brooke Ramsier's shot out of the far corner in the final two minutes of the opening half. The five saves is one off her collegiate high set versus Arkansas on Oct. 25.

*         For the second consecutive meeting between these two teams, all the scoring came in a half. In Florida's 3-2 loss at Auburn on Sept. 27, all five of the goals came in the second half. In tonight's 2-0 Gator win, both goals came in the opening half.

*         Today's win sends Florida to the SEC Tournament final for the 16th time in the program's 21-year history. The Gators lead all programs with 10 SEC Tournament titles, with the last coming in 2012.

What the Gators Said:
What did you think of the Gators performance tonight?
"I thought in the first half we did a really good job of keeping the ball and capitalizing on our opportunities. In the second half, Auburn put some pressure on us and that combined with a bit of fatigue, we sort of lost our way in terms of passing.

"It was a really good effort by our team. Probably not one of our prettiest but definitely a great result." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

And the two goals by the Gators?
"We knew that we had an opportunity to pass the ball around them and when we did that effectively in the first half, we were really good. I think our lesson learned is that we need to keep doing that." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

What happened on your goal?
"Claire [Falknor] and I both work heavily on free kicks because we know that at some point it is going to be a pivotal point in a match. Claire asked me 'do you want it?' and I said 'yeah, I'll go for it.' Lou (Lauren Smith) told me to keep it down. I got really nervous, but I told myself to focus because we need this. Meggie [Dougherty Howard] did a good job of kind of hiding it and it went in the goal." - senior defender Christen Westphal

What led up to your goal?
"It was a great build up that started with Christen [Westphal] in the back. She played it out to Betsy [Middleton] who turned and looked up. Auburn had been playing a high line all night and she played me a great ball through. I took a couple of touches and saw the keeper coming out so I hit it with my left foot to the far corner." - junior forward Savannah Jordan

How important was the 2-0 lead at halftime?
"It was big, but we also knew that was a tough lead to have. Auburn had just come back from a 2-0 deficit to South Carolina on Wednesday to tie the match and send it to PKs. We knew we weren't comfortable with that lead. We were pushing for a third goal but the second half just became really hectic. We stuck it out so that was good." - senior defender Christen Westphal.

On the Gators' defensive effort tonight:
"I thought our team as a whole played some good team defense because they started throwing numbers forward once they were down. We really absorbed that pressure." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

On returning to the SEC Tournament final:
"We are really happy [to be in the SEC Tournament final]. Last year, our stay was so short, it is nice to be back in the final." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

Records:
Florida: 16-3-1, 8-2-1 SEC
AU: 14-5-1, 7-4 SEC

Rankings:
Florida is ranked No. 5 on the November 3 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll<http://www.nscaa.com/rankings/4858/NCAADivisionI/women/Poll11> and Auburn is No. 19.

Next up:
SEC Tournament final action is next for the Gators. Florida meets Texas A&M at 2 p.m. ET at the Orange Beach SportsPlex. The Aggies advanced to their third consecutive SEC Tournament final with a 1-0 win over LSU in Friday's other semifinal.

The SEC Tournament final airs live on ESPNU beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The match can be heard on GatorZone.com and is available on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.


No. 5 Florida (16-3-1, 8-2-1 SEC) versus Auburn (14-5-1, 7-4 SEC)

Stadium: Orange Beach SportsPlex

Weather: 76 degrees, 96% humidity, cloudy, winds 9mph

1. 10:41 UF Christen Westphal
2. 18:35 UF Savannah Jordan Betsy Middleton, Christen Westphal

Shots: Florida 7; AU 10

Saves: Florida 5 (Kaylan Marckese 5); AU 1 (Sarah Le Beau 1)
Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Florida-Gators-soccer-player-Savannah-Jordan-in-2015-150x150.jpg Andrew Spivey FeatureOther Sports ,,,
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Special report on the Florida Gators soccer team

ORANGE BEACH, Alabama - The University of Florida soccer team is onto the Southeastern Conference Tournament final after a 2-0 win over No. 4 seed Auburn Friday in semifinal action at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.
This will be the Gators' 16th appearance in the SEC Tournament final and first since 2013. The Gators will face two-time defending SEC Tournament champion Texas A&M in Sunday's final, which airs live at 2 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
How the Gators Scored Friday:
An unusual goal from a player known more for her defense and assists put the Gators on the board in the 11th minute. Junior Meggie Dougherty Howard<file:///\\uaadata\Comm\SIDDATA\Soccer\Mary\Soccer%202015\Releases\Two%20Gators%20with%20Double-Digit%20Goals%20Total> was fouled just outside the box and senior Christen Westphal<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/westphal_christen.php> stepped up to take the 19-yard free kick. The two Gators at the end of the wall - Dougherty Howard and Brooke Sharphttp://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/Sharp_Brooke.php> - jumped out of the way of the ball traveling along the ground, and it scored at the far post.

Florida's second goal of the half started deep in the Gator half. From deep in the Florida half, Rachelle Smith<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/smith_rachelle.php> sent the ball up to Westphal. She sent the ball forward to Betsy Middleton<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/middleton_betsy.php> located at the top of the Gators' defensive third. The through ball from Middleton led to a foot race for Savannah Jordan<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/Jordan_Savannah.php>, who passed her defender to bring the ball into the box to beat the goalkeeper with a left-footed shot to the right corner in the 19th minute.

Worth Noting:

*         Tonight's game-winning goal came from Westphal, the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. It is her second goal of the season and the third of her career.

*         Both of Florida's SEC leaders in two offensive categories added to their 2015 totals tonight. The goal by Jordan, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, is her 21st of the season. Westphal was credited with an assist on Jordan's goal - her 12th of the season.

*         Freshman Kaylan Marckese's<http://www.gatorzone.com/guides/soccer/pages/season_info/player_bios/marckese_kaylan.php> five saves helped the Gators post their fifth shutout of the season and third of the last four outings. On one her saves, Marckese dove low to the right to keep Brooke Ramsier's shot out of the far corner in the final two minutes of the opening half. The five saves is one off her collegiate high set versus Arkansas on Oct. 25.

*         For the second consecutive meeting between these two teams, all the scoring came in a half. In Florida's 3-2 loss at Auburn on Sept. 27, all five of the goals came in the second half. In tonight's 2-0 Gator win, both goals came in the opening half.

*         Today's win sends Florida to the SEC Tournament final for the 16th time in the program's 21-year history. The Gators lead all programs with 10 SEC Tournament titles, with the last coming in 2012.

What the Gators Said:
What did you think of the Gators performance tonight?
"I thought in the first half we did a really good job of keeping the ball and capitalizing on our opportunities. In the second half, Auburn put some pressure on us and that combined with a bit of fatigue, we sort of lost our way in terms of passing.

"It was a really good effort by our team. Probably not one of our prettiest but definitely a great result." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

And the two goals by the Gators?
"We knew that we had an opportunity to pass the ball around them and when we did that effectively in the first half, we were really good. I think our lesson learned is that we need to keep doing that." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

What happened on your goal?
"Claire [Falknor] and I both work heavily on free kicks because we know that at some point it is going to be a pivotal point in a match. Claire asked me 'do you want it?' and I said 'yeah, I'll go for it.' Lou (Lauren Smith) told me to keep it down. I got really nervous, but I told myself to focus because we need this. Meggie [Dougherty Howard] did a good job of kind of hiding it and it went in the goal." - senior defender Christen Westphal

What led up to your goal?
"It was a great build up that started with Christen [Westphal] in the back. She played it out to Betsy [Middleton] who turned and looked up. Auburn had been playing a high line all night and she played me a great ball through. I took a couple of touches and saw the keeper coming out so I hit it with my left foot to the far corner." - junior forward Savannah Jordan

How important was the 2-0 lead at halftime?
"It was big, but we also knew that was a tough lead to have. Auburn had just come back from a 2-0 deficit to South Carolina on Wednesday to tie the match and send it to PKs. We knew we weren't comfortable with that lead. We were pushing for a third goal but the second half just became really hectic. We stuck it out so that was good." - senior defender Christen Westphal.

On the Gators' defensive effort tonight:
"I thought our team as a whole played some good team defense because they started throwing numbers forward once they were down. We really absorbed that pressure." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

On returning to the SEC Tournament final:
"We are really happy [to be in the SEC Tournament final]. Last year, our stay was so short, it is nice to be back in the final." - Florida head coach Becky Burleigh

Records:
Florida: 16-3-1, 8-2-1 SEC
AU: 14-5-1, 7-4 SEC

Rankings:
Florida is ranked No. 5 on the November 3 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll<http://www.nscaa.com/rankings/4858/NCAADivisionI/women/Poll11> and Auburn is No. 19.

Next up:
SEC Tournament final action is next for the Gators. Florida meets Texas A&M at 2 p.m. ET at the Orange Beach SportsPlex. The Aggies advanced to their third consecutive SEC Tournament final with a 1-0 win over LSU in Friday's other semifinal.

The SEC Tournament final airs live on ESPNU beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The match can be heard on GatorZone.com and is available on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.


No. 5 Florida (16-3-1, 8-2-1 SEC) versus Auburn (14-5-1, 7-4 SEC)

Stadium: Orange Beach SportsPlex

Weather: 76 degrees, 96% humidity, cloudy, winds 9mph

1. 10:41 UF Christen Westphal
2. 18:35 UF Savannah Jordan Betsy Middleton, Christen Westphal

Shots: Florida 7; AU 10

Saves: Florida 5 (Kaylan Marckese 5); AU 1 (Sarah Le Beau 1)
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