Monday November 4, 2013Freshman scoring phenom from UF soccer past sizes up the one from present
Updated: 12:32pm, November 5
Updated: 12:32pm, November 5
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Two weekends ago, Andi Sellers was machine-gunning through her remote control and happened upon the Florida-Texas A&M soccer match on ESPNU.
It was the second time Sellers, who starred at UF from 1997-2001, got to see the Gators play this season, which meant it was the second time she got to watch a certain hotshot freshman forward do the kind of magical things at the front of the Gators’ offense that Sellers did more than a decade ago.
“I think she’s great,” Sellers said of Savannah Jordan. “I love watching her play.”
On Monday, the Southeastern Conference rained individual honors on several UF players, including Jordan, who may just need a U-Haul for the hardware she could accumulate before her 2013 rookie season is over. Not only did the league name Jordan its freshman of the year, but the 5-foot-7 goal-scoring machine also was placed on on the All-SEC first team and crowned as SEC Offensive Player of the Year after helping guide Florida to share of the league’s regular-season title.
Heading into this week’s conference tournament at Orange Beach, Ala. -- the sixth-ranked Gators (15-3-1) will face Arkansas (12-7) in second-round play Wednesday -- Jordan tops the SEC with 20 goals. Her season's total is three off the UF record for a freshman, a mark Sellers set back in 1997.
Sellers (pictured above) is now 34, married with a young son and working as an academic advisor for student-athletes at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. She has no problem admitting that today’s soccer circumstances are much different than when she played. Back then, the Gators routinely hammered opponents by scores of 4- and 5-0 -- do the names Abby Wambach, Danielle Fotopoulous and Heather Mitts ring a bell? -- whereas now the competitive playing field is considerably more level.
All that makes Sellers all the more impressed with what she’s seen from Jordan, who packs a powerful combination of skill, speed, physicality and soccer IQ into her game.
“She has a nose for the goal and that’s something you can’t really teach,” Sellers said. “It’s more of an innate characteristic. She knows how to put herself in the best position to give herself an opportunity to score.”
Coach Becky Burleigh said Monday that UF’s 4-2-3-1 set -- with the forward at the top -- not only is an ideal fit for how Jordan plays, but that Jordan (pictured right) has learned certain nuances that have allowed her to play it better as the season has progressed.
A few months ago, Burleigh explained, Jordan was an excellent “turn-and-go” forward, but now is thinking the game and picking up subtle ploys to set herself up.
More specifically, set up defenders.
“What makes her dangerous, she not only can play back to the goal, but also is a threat to get in behind [the defense], which makes her the ideal person for the 1,” Burleigh said. “If the defense drops off of her, she can turn and go at them. If they stay tight, she can spin them. That dual threat makes her a real problem in terms of how you mark up.
Jordan’s 20 goals have come in 19 games. If UF sticks around in the postseason a while, Sellers’ freshman scoring record could be in peril.
And she’s fine with that.
“I believe in the saying that records are made to broken,” Sellers said. “I’m thankful the person who could break it is someone I love to watch play. And if she’s going to break my record, I’m going to be proud to say, ‘Yeah, take a good look at that girl’ because she’s someone any player would want to have playing alongside them.”