Gators soccer goes for SEC lead

Southeastern Conference soccer co-leaders No. 12 Florida (10-3-1, 7-1 SEC) and No. 14 Missouri (12-2, 7-1 SEC) meet Friday in a match which could play a key part in determining the league’s 2012 champion. Match time is set for 7 p.m. ET at the James G. Pressly Stadium. Admission is free for all regular-season Gator matches.

Friday is the Gators’ Kicking for the Cure match. It is Florida soccer’s cancer awareness match and fans are encouraged to join the Gators and wear pink to show their support for the fight against breast cancer. The first 500 fans Friday receive pink wristbands and should plan to stay to the end to see the pink fireworks display.

Last weekend, Florida picked up a pair of road wins in league action versus SEC Western Division programs. Florida dominated possession at LSU on Friday, but it wasn’t until the 74th minute that the Gators were able to get a goal. Senior All-American Erika Tymrak, making her first appearance since being sidelined right before halftime of the Sept. 21 Tennessee match with a sprained left ankle, turned in the game-winning goal. She took the ball from outside back Lauren Silver end line and then placed it in at the far post for her third goal of 2012. Sophomore Havana Solaun received the ball from Caroline Triglia and then drove through the LSU half to score with just 36 ticks left in the match. It was Solaun’s third goal of the last five matches.

Sunday, Florida claimed a 2-1 upset win at No. 5 Texas A&M. The Aggies scored first off a 22nd minute corner kick, forcing Florida to launch their fourth come-from-behind win of the season. Senior Jo Dragotta tied the match when she scored her second career goal off a free kick in the 29th minute. The game-winning goal also came off the play of a free kick. Tymrak’s centering pass found junior transfer Adriana Leon in the box and she pounded a 10-yard shot to the roof of the net. It was Leon’s third goal as a Gator, with all coming in the last seven matches. Florida ended the Aggies’ 12-match unbeaten streak and its 18-match home unbeaten streak.

Solaun leads the Gators with five goals, while Barney and King are second with four.

SEC newcomer Missouri has been a part of the 2012 NSCAA top 20 since the Aug. 28 poll. The Tigers opened the season with five consecutive wins and has only dropped 1-0 decisions at Ohio State and at Tennessee. Seven Tiger wins have been shutouts, including five of their league victories. Sophomore Abi Raymer, junior Alyssa Diggs and senior Taiwo Adeshigbin all share the Tigers season goals lead at six each.

There will be a trio of SEC Players of the Week on the pitch Friday. Tymrak shares the Oct. 8 SEC Offensive Soccer Player of the Week honor with MU’s Diggs. Also picking up league player of the week honors is Leon, as College Sports Madness named her the SEC recipient.

This is the second consecutive season the two teams have met. The Gators opened their final weekend of 2011 non-conference action with a 2-0 win at Missouri, then ranked No. 24 by Soccer America. Both goals came late in each half and were scored by Annie Speese off assists from Dragotta. The first came off a 19-yard shot with just two minutes left in the opening half. Her second came in the 86th minute, using a left-footed shot from nearly the same location as the first. The goals were the first of Speese’s career.

Three SEC teams are among the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top 25 and two additional programs are receiving votes. The SECs new additions – Texas A&M and Missouri – are ranked No. 9 and No. 14, respectively. Florida holds the No. 12 spot. Also receiving votes are Alabama and Tennessee.

Courtesy of UF Communications