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1998 Gator Soccer Year in Review

Record: 26-1
NCAA Finish: NCAA Champions
Final Poll Rankings: No. 1 NSCAA, Soccer News, Soccer Buzz, No. 3 on Soccer Times and Soccer America
SEC Finish: 8-0 (Eastern Division champions)
SEC Tournament Finish: 1st
Head Coach: Becky Burleigh (82-11-3/four seasons at UF - 164-34-9/nine years overall)
Whatever tag people wanted to place on the Gator soccer team's 1998 season… Stunning … Giant-killers … Upstarts … there was only one title that fit properly at the end of the 1998 collegiate season - NCAA Champions. The University of Florida team, in just its first appearance in the NCAA College Cup, claimed the NCAA title with a 1-0 victory over defending champion North Carolina. For the 13 members of the Gators' 1998 senior class, it marked the end of a remarkable collegiate career where they took the program from its initial season (1995) to a NCAA Championship in just the course of four short years.

The highlights were plentiful for the 1998 Gators:

NCAA Tournament

  • Won its first NCAA Women's Soccer Championship with its 1-0 win over North Carolina in the final, becoming just the fourth different team to win the title since the tournament's beginning in 1982 and just the third to win the national title in their fourth year of existence. (North Carolina was the first in 1982 and George Mason also achieved it in 1985). There are currently 247 Division I women's soccer teams, while in 1982, there were only 25 and in 1985, there were 54
  • Florida had five players named to the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship All-Tournament Team: Keisha Bell (D), Heather Mitts (D), Meredith Flaherty (GK), Danielle Fotopoulos (F) and Sarah Yohe (MF).
  • Meredith Flaherty was named the tournament's Defensive Most Valuable Player after eight saves in the championship match and seven against Santa Clara in the semifinals. Flaherty did not allow a goal in either match of the 1998 NCAA College Cup.
  • Danielle Fotopoulos was named the tournament's Offensive Most Valuable Player. Of the three goals scored during the three games of the Championships, she was a part of two with the game-winning goal against UNC and the game-winning assist against Santa Clara. She finished her collegiate career with the NCAA All-Time Career Records (male or female) for goals (118) and points (284).
  • Florida snapped some streaks in NCAA College Cup play. In UF's 1-0 win over Santa Clara in the NCAA semifinal, the Gators' goal at 25:18 was the first scored against Santa Clara in over 1,438 minutes (1438:40), stopping the Broncos' NCAA record 16-game consecutive shutout streak. In the NCAA Championship match, Florida handed UNC a 1-0 loss -- its first in 46 games and snapped the Tar Heels unbeaten streak at 70 matches. The Tar Heels had not been shut out since the 1995 NCAA semifinal loss to Notre Dame (1-0) - a string of 104 matches.
  • Florida advanced to its first NCAA College Cup appearance with a come from behind 3-1 win over Penn State in the NCAA quarterfinal, held at UF's Percy Beard Stadium. The Gators opened NCAA play with a 5-1 win over James Madison and defeated Northwestern 1-0 in the NCAA Round of 16.
  • The championship match vs. then No. 1 North Carolina marked the 17th time in the 1998 season the Gators had faced a team that advanced to the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Overall, UF posted a 16-1 record vs. 1998 NCAA Tournament opponents in 1998. The Gators were seeded No. 2 in the NCAA Tournament.

Regular Season & SEC Tournament

  • Won third consecutive SEC Tournament title with a 2-0 victory over Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Gators did not allow a goal throughout the SEC Tournament, defeating South Carolina 6-0 in the opening round and Kentucky 2-0 in the semifinal. Florida also claimed its second SEC Eastern Division title after sweeping through the league's regular season with an 8-0 record.
  • Florida placed four on the All-SEC Tournament team - Erin Baxter (MVP), Keisha Bell, Danielle Fotopoulos and Abby Wambach. Baxter became the first player in league history to be named to the SEC All-Tournament team four consecutive years.
  • Danielle Fotopoulos was named the SEC Player of the Year - her second such honor and marking the third consecutive year that the league's POY has been a Gator
  • A league record 13 Gators earned SEC Academic Honor Roll recognition. The Gator squad was also recognized by the NSCAA for the 1998 Team Academic Award, given to squads with a minimum grade point average of 3.00 or higher.
  • Gator soccer players posted a total of six hat-tricks (three goals) in five matches in 1998. Danielle Fotopoulos led UF with three 1998 hat-tricks - at Maryland (four goals), vs. UNC-Greensboro and vs. Mississippi. Freshmen Abby Wambach (at Kentucky) and Jill Stevens (vs. Mississippi State) each recorded hat-tricks. Senior Melissa Pini recorded her second collegiate hat-trick vs. Mississippi.
  • Florida drew the nation's second-largest crowd of the regular season (5,222) on Oct. 11 for the UF-North Carolina match. The Tar Heels handed the Gators their only loss of the season on that day, taking a 2-1 OT win.
  • The Gators finished the 1998 season second in average attendance (1,858) - marking the fourth consecutive season that UF has finished among the top three in the nation's attendance.


  • Danielle Fotopoulos, who led the nation with 32 goals and 75 points, was named the Honda Award winner for soccer as soccer's top collegiate female student-athlete in 1998. She also was named 1998 Player of the Year by the NSCAA, Times, Soccer America and Soccer Buzz. Fotopoulos was also named the Ben Hill Griffin award winner as UF's top female athlete of 1998.
  • Fotopoulos finished her collegiate career as the NCAA Division I All-Time Leader (male or female) in goals (118) and points (284). She passed the previous NCAA Women's goals record (held by Mia Hamm, UNC and Tiffeny Milbrett, Portland at 103) on Oct. 18 vs. Mississippi. She passed the NCAA Men's goals record (Thompson Usiyan, Appalachian State at 109) against Duke on Oct. 30. Her game-winning goal vs. Northwestern on Nov. 22 gave her sole possession of the NCAA Points record (previous record of 278 held by Mia Hamm).
  • Fotopoulos earned a spot on the U.S. Women's National Team for the World Cup in May of 1999, becoming the first Gator to participate in World Cup play.
  • Six Gators earned a total of 14 All-America honors - Erin Baxter, Meredith Flaherty, Danielle Fotopoulos, Erin Gilhart, Heather Mitts and Abby Wambach
  • Florida placed five players on the NSCAA All-Southeast Region first team - the highest number of first-team selections of any team in the region: Erin Baxter, Meredith Flaherty, Danielle Fotopoulos, Heather Mitts and Abby Wambach
  • Becky Burleigh, the first female coach to lead her team to the NCAA crown, picked up three National Coach of the Year Awards in 1988 - NSCAA, College Soccer Weekly and Soccer Buzz.
  • Erin Baxter was named the 1998-99 Fall/Winter GTE Academic All-American of the Year - a first for the UF women's sports program. Baxter made her third consecutive appearance on the GTE Academic All-America team, becoming only the second UF student-athlete to be named to the prestigious academic team every year they were eligible. Sarah Yohe was named to the Fall/Winter GTE Academic All-District team.
  • Two Gators were also named to 1998 NSCAA Scholar Athlete All-America Teams - Erin Baxter (first team) and Michelle Harris (second).
Florida in the Polls…
National Soccer Coaches
Association of America (NSCAA)
Soccer News
Dec. 7, 1998
Soccer Buzz
1. Florida 1. Florida 1. Florida
2. North Carolina 2. North Carolina 2. North Carolina
3. Santa Clara 3. Santa Clara 3. Santa Clara
4. Portland 4. Portland 4. Portland
5. Notre Dame 5. Notre Dame 5. Notre Dame
6. Connecticut 6. Connecticut 6. Connecticut
7. Penn State 7. Dartmouth 7. Dartmouth
8. Dartmouth 8. Penn State 8. Penn State
9. William & Mary 9. Nebraska 9. William & Mary
10. Nebraska 10. William & Mary 10. San Diego State
Soccer Times
Soccer America
1. North Carolina 1. North Carolina    
2. Santa Clara 2. Santa Clara    
3. Florida 3. Florida    
4. Notre Dame 4. Notre Dame    
5. Connecticut 5. Portland    
6. Portland 6. Connecticut    
7. Dartmouth 7. Dartmouth    
8. San Diego State 8. Hartford    
9. Penn State 9. Penn State    
10. William & Mary 10. San Diego State    
Schedule & Results
Date Opponent Result
Sept. 1 at UCF W 3-0
Sept. 4 at Texas A&M W 1-0 (OT)
Sept. 6 at SMU W 2-1 (OT)
Sept. 11 Tennessee W 4-0
Sept. 13 Georgia W 2-1 (OT)
Sept. 19 Hartford W 5-2
Sept. 25 at Vanderbilt W 2-1
Sept. 27 at Kentucky W 3-0
Oct. 2 at Maryland W 7-2
Oct. 4 at Old Dominion W 6-0
Oct. 9 UNC?Greensboro W 6-0
Oct. 11 North Carolina L 2-1 (OT)
Oct. 13 at Florida State W 2-0
Oct. 16 Mississippi State W 8-0
Oct. 18 Mississippi W 9-1
Oct. 23 at Alabama W 3-1
Oct. 25 at South Carolina W 4-2
Oct. 30 Duke University W 5-1
Nov. 1 Penn State W 3-1
Nov. 5-8 SEC Tournament
Nov. 5 South Carolina W 6-0
Nov. 6 Kentucky W 2-0
Nov. 8 Vanderbilt W 2-0
NCAA Tournament
Nov. 15 James Madison W 5-1
Nov. 22 Northwestern W 1-0
Nov. 29 Penn State W 3-1
Dec. 4 Santa Clara W 1-0
Dec. 6 North Carolina W 1-0

1998 Gator Soccer Awards…

  • NSCAA/Adidas National Coach of the Year
    Becky Burleigh
  • College Soccer Weekly Coach of the Year
    Becky Burleigh
  • Soccer Buzz Coach of the Year
    Becky Burleigh
  • NSCAA All-America
    Erin Baxter (second team)
    Danielle Fotopoulos (first team)
    Heather Mitts (third team)
  • Honda Award
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • NSCAA Player of the Year
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • ESPN/Soccer Times Player of the Year
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • Soccer America Player of the Year
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • Soccer Buzz Player of the Year
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • ESPN/Soccer Times All-America
    Erin Baxter (second team)
    Danielle Fotopoulos (first team)
    Abby Wambach (honorable mention)
  • College Soccer Weekly All-America
    Erin Baxter (first team)
    Meredith Flaherty (second team)
    Danielle Fotopoulos (first team)
    Erin Gilhart (second team)
    Heather Mitts (honorable mention)
    Abby Wambach (honorable mention)
  • Soccer America Season MVPs
    Erin Baxter
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • Soccer America Freshman All-America
    Keisha Bell
    Abby Wambach
  • Soccer Buzz All-America
    Erin Baxter (third team)
    Danielle Fotopoulos (first team)
    Heather Mitts (second team)
  • Soccer Buzz Freshman All-America
    Keisha Bell (second team)
    Abby Wambach (honorable mention)
  • NSCAA Southeast Region First Team
    Erin Baxter
    Meredith Flaherty
    Danielle Fotopoulos
    Heather Mitts
    Abby Wambach
  • NCAA Final Four All-Tournament
    Keisha Bell, Meredith Flaherty (Defensive MVP), Danielle Fotopoulos (Offensive MVP), Heather Mitts, Sarah Yohe
  • SEC Player of the Year
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • SEC Tournament MVP
    Erin Baxter
  • All-SEC First Team
    Erin Baxter
    Danielle Fotopoulos
    Heather Mitts
    Abby Wambach
  • SEC All-Tournament
    Erin Baxter
    Keisha Bell
    Danielle Fotopoulos
    Abby Wambach
  • SEC Player of the Week
    Nov. 2 - Danielle Fotopoulos
    Oct. 26 - Danielle Fotopoulos
    Sept. 22 - Sarah Yohe
  • College Soccer Weekly Player of Week
    Oct. 12-18 - Danielle Fotopoulos
    Dec. 4-6 - Meredith Flaherty
  • Soccer Buzz Fan Choice Player of the Year
    Danielle Fotopoulos
  • Soccer America's Team of the Week
    Danielle Fotopoulos
    - Nov. 3, Oct. 21, Oct. 14, Oct. 7, Sept. 9
    Abby Wambach
    - Nov. 11
  • GTE Academic Fall At-Large All-American of the Year
    Erin Baxter
  • GTE Academic Fall At-Large All-American First Team
    Erin Baxter
  • GTE Academic Fall At-Large All-American District III Team
    Erin Baxter (first team)
    Sarah Yohe (second team)
  • NSCAA Scholar Athlete All-America
    Erin Baxter (national first team)
    Michelle Harris (national second team)
    Sarah Yohe (South Region second team)
  • Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll
    Danielle Bass, Erin Baxter, Christina Brady, Michelle Harris, Kelly Maher, Adrianne Moreira, Lisa Olinyk, Lynn Pattishall, Melissa Pini, Andrea Sellers, Katie Tullis, Tracy Ward, Sarah Yohe
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