No. 6 Gators soccer visits Georgia

The No. 6 Florida Gators soccer team (7-2) will begin Southeastern conference play Friday in Athens, Ga., today as it faces the Georgia Bulldogs (6-2) at 7 p.m., at the Turner Soccer Complex.

Two of the last five meetings between these two programs have gone to overtime, including the 2010 regular-season meeting in Gainesville. UF’s Erika Tymrak scored the tying goal late and then hit the game-winner in the 97th minute to give Florida a 2-1 OT. The two teams also met in the 2010 SEC Tournament semifinal round, with the Gators used a hat-trick from Lindsay Thompson to come from behind to take a 3-1 win.

The Gators concluded non-conference play at a pair of teams who both were receiving votes on the Sept. 13 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll.

Florida opened the weekend 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 freshman Annie Speese off assists from Jo 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. She received the ball off a free kick and brought it forward to almost the same spot as her first half goal and her left-footed shot scored in the upper slot. The goals were the first of Speese’s Gator career.

On Sunday, the Gators scored early and often, taking a 7-2 win at Kansas. Six different Gators scored – Tahnai Annis (first and last goals), Speese, Havana Solaun, McKenzie Barney, Lindsay Thompson and Erika Tymrak. Florida’s five goals in the opening half is one off the record set by 1996 team and matched in 1998. It is the most goals in a half for UF since its five second half goals in a 6-0 win over Old Dominion on Oct. 4, 1998. Thompson’s goal as the halftime buzzer sounded is the latest goal ever for UF in the opening half, just bettering the previous record of 44:57 set by Thompson in 2008 NCAA Second Round action versus UCF.

For her play last weekend, Speese was named to the Soccer America National Team of the Week and the SEC Freshman of the Week. She is second among the Gators with 10 points, shares second with three goals and leads with four assists.

Georgia is currently on a five-match win streak. The Bulldogs played one match last weekend, using their biggest offensive output of the season to post a 4-1 win over North Carolina-Greensboro. Sophomore Alexa Newfield, a 2010 All-SEC first team selection, leads the Bulldogs with six goals and four assists for 16 points.