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Thursday November 2, 2000Florida Opens SEC Play With 4-1 Win Over Arkansas

ATHENS, Ga. -

Abby Wambach scored Florida's four goals in UF's 4-1 win ove Arkansas.

A tense tie match was blown open in just over a two-minute span of the second half to give the No. 12 University of Florida soccer team a 4-1 win over Arkansas in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The win moves the Gators’ record to 14-7 for the season, while Arkansas finishes with a 7-11-3 record.

Junior All-American Abby Wambach, the 2000 SEC Player of the Year, provided all the goals for the Gators Thursday. She got Florida on the board quickly in the opening half, taking the cross from freshman Crystal Frimpong to score from seven-yards out at 2:22. The Lady ‘Backs responded at 14:11, when Michal-Lyn O’Kelley hit a short header off the cross from Mandy Komar.

The match remained knotted until the 68th minute. Then the Gators exploded for three goals in just over two minutes of play. Wambach got the go-ahead goal at 67:42, placing the rebound of Kristin Fisher’s shot in from 17-yards. She scored again at 69:21, sending in an 18-yard blast from the top of the box that went untouched into the goal. Wambach got her fourth goal at 69:44, just placing the ball inside the far post off the cross from sophomore Erica "Boo" Schubert. The four-goal effort matches her collegiate match-high record set in 1999 vs. LSU. The hat-trick (plus one) was the seventh of her career, moving her into sole possession of the Florida Career Hat-Tricks record. She entered the weekend tied with former Gator Danielle Fotopoulos at six hat-tricks each. The eight-point match also moved her into first with 164 points on the Gators’ Career Points Chart (previous leader: Melissa Pini , 160 points).

Although she turned in four goals on Thursday, Wambach was quick to give praise to freshman Dena "D" Floyd, who moved from the backline to the midfield during the match to provide the Gators with some key play.

"Granted I scored some goals, but I think the MVP goes to Dena Floyd. She won every single air ball and that totally changed the pace of the game and put everything going our way. She won every first ball and I was there for most of the second balls. I think that was the turning point of the game," Wambach said.

For the match, Florida outshot Arkansas 28-4. UF goalkeeper Jordan Kellgren turned in one save in 75 minutes of play. She was replaced by sophomore Regan Wiesemann at 75:21. UA goalkeeper Lindsay Haywood turned in nine saves Thursday.

"Every time we’ve ever played Arkansas, it’s always been tough and this one was no different. At the beginning of the match, we scored a quick one, but they came right back. It was a battle in the first half," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said, who is just one win away from her 200th career victory. "In the second half, we set the tone early. Dena Floyd won a lot of balls in the air and that really changed the flow of the game, I think. Then we were able to score some goals."

"I think we would have liked to take care of business a little bit earlier, because we had so many chances, especially in the beginning of the second half. But even in the first half, we had so many chances that we didn’t finish," she continued. "But I think in the big picture it was good because eventually everyone did get to play and gave a rest to some of the people who needed it."

UF, the four-time defending SEC Tournament champion, will meet Kentucky in the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament on Friday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. Kentucky advanced to the semifinal after defeating LSU 2-0 on Thursday. The match can be heard live on the Internet at www.GatorZone.com.

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