Senior Erika Tymrak’s late free-kick goal gave the No. 10 Gators (15-4-1, 11-2 SEC) the margin they needed Wednesday, advancing the team to Friday’s Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament semifinal action. Florida took a 2-1 win over Mississippi (13-9, 5-8 SEC) in the third match of Wednesday’s action at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
Florida receives the 2012 Southeastern Conference trophy prior to the start of Wednesday’s match. The Gators used a 11-2 record in league action to claim their 12th SEC title.
The Gators now move ahead to SEC Tournament semifinal action for the seventh consecutive year and for the 16th time in the program’s 18-year history. Florida will face Missouri Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET and the match can be viewed on ESPN3. Missouri took a 2-1 win over Kentucky to advance. No. 12 Texas A&M advanced to face Auburn in the other semifinal. A&M defeated South Carolina 1-0 in overtime and Auburn took a 5-4 penalty kick decision over Tennessee on Wednesday.
After the afternoon matches both went to overtime after scoreless play, senior Jo Dragotta provided the first goal of the day in regulation. Sophomore Tessa Andujar made a move to beat her marker and moved along the end line toward the box. Her cross in the box found Dragotta who hammered in the shot from 12 yards.
“Tessa ran down line and beat a player. She’s really good at that,” Dragotta said. “Havana Solaun made the front post run and dragged the player out. The ball from Tessa hit my foot and it went in.”
It was Dragotta’s seventh goal of the season and that’s tops among the 2012 Gators. For Andujar, it was her third assist of the season and the second consecutive for the outside back, as she also provide the feed on Annie Speese’s final goal in Florida’s 3-0 win at South Carolina last Thursday in the regular-season finale.
The Rebels showed much more urgency in the second half. In the opening half, UM recorded two shots but in the second turned in five. The first goal of the season by UM’s Erin Emerson off a corner kick tied the match in 80th minute.
UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said the Gators got away from their strength in the second half.
“I think we just had to keep our composure. We started to turn it into a little bit of a dribble fest instead of a passing game, which is our strength. That’s our fault, but you have to give Ole Miss credit for coming back and getting that goal,” Burleigh said. “It was a great goal off their set piece.”
After the goal, the Gators had three shots, but the opportunity to get the winning margin came off a Rebel foul. Junior Taylor Travis looked to move the ball into the box and was fouled right above the 18-yard box. Three Gators stood over the ball while the Rebel wall set up, but there was little doubt that it would be Tymrak, the 2012 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, who would take the shot.
Tymrak hit the 19-yard shot to the far upper slot to give Florida the final margin.
“I was at the top left of the 18 and I saw a gap at the far post. I saw the goalie going near there but I knew if I hit it hard enough it would go in,” Tymrak said.
The goal was Tymrak’s sixth of the season and she pushed her team leading points total to 19. She moves up one spot on both Florida’s career goals (29 goals/T8th) and points (93 points/6th) charts after Wednesday’s goal.
The Gators’ push in the final minutes created the opportunity which was the difference Wednesday.
“I think the key, in the end, was creating chances,” Burleigh said. “We had a lot of chances early that we didn’t finish, but it was a great individual effort on the set piece and that was the difference in the game.”
Florida’s Taylor Burke turned in four saves Wednesday, including a stop in the 62nd minute on SEC’s co-goals leader Mandy McCalla. Her shot was headed to far post and Burke was moving to her right to make the stop. The ball deflected and was then headed to the near post. Burke made a quick switch and was just able to push the ball out at the near post for a corner kick.
Both of Friday’s semifinal matches will appear on ESPN3. ESPNU will cover the SEC Championship match.
Wednesday’s SEC Soccer Scores:
Auburn 0, Tennessee 0 (AU advances 5-4 PK)
Missouri 2, Kentucky 1
Texas A&M 1, South Carolina 0 OT
Courtesy of UF Communications