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UF defeated Georgia 2-0 to claim its fifth consecutive SEC Tournament title.

Sunday November 5, 2000UF Soccer Wins Fifth Consecutive SEC Tourney Title

ATHENS, Ga. --

UF defeated Georgia 2-0 to claim its fifth consecutive SEC Tournament title.

The No. 12 University of Florida soccer team made an early lead stick Sunday to claim its fifth consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament title in front of a Georgia Soccer Stadium crowd of 2,265. The Gators scored twice in the opening 13 minutes of play to post a 2-0 win over the Bulldogs (11-9-2). Florida now moves to 16-7 on the year and will receive the league’s automatic berth into the field of 48 for the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

The win extends the Gators’ SEC win streak to 45 consecutive league wins. It is the longest current conference win streak in the nation and stands second all-time on the national list.

Florida got on the board early in the match when Andi Sellers headed in a corner kick by Erica "Boo" Schubert at 4:36. It was the second time in as many matches that Sellers hit the game-winner off a set play. In Friday’s semifinal match, Sellers scored off a free kick at the top of the box to give UF a 2-1 victory over Kentucky.

"We spend an awful lot of time on set pieces," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said. "But in a tournament setting, it wins or loses games. It’s important how well you defend set plays and how well you execute set plays. We’ve talked about that so much and I really think our players have taken that to heart."

Freshman Robin Fulton hit a 14-yard left-footed shot to the far post off the through ball from Kara Rao at 12:55 to put the Gators up 2-0.

"Kara just put the ball right through the defenders," Fulton said. "I’m not left-footed so I was kind of surprised it went in because it wasn’t a very hard shot."

The Bulldogs increased their shot production in the second half (from one in the opening half to six in the second half), but the Gators were able to hold off the Bulldogs, preserving UF’s ninth shutout of the season. For the match, UF outshot UGA 18-7. Florida goalkeeper Jordan Kellgren turned in two saves, while UGA’s Nicole Williams recorded seven saves.

"In the first half, I think we executed our game plan well. We finished the opportunities Actually, we didn’t finish a couple of opportunities - we had some other great chances. But we really came out quickly, which is what we were trying to do. I thought we played a very, very good first half," Burleigh said. "The second half, they started to play with the lineup a little bit. They started with three forwards, then they added four forwards and I thought we reacted well to that and was able to hold off their scoring attempts. There was a tremendous amount of pressure. For us not to give up any goals with that type of pressure on us was a real credit to our overall team defense."

"Winning the SEC is always our goal," she continued. "We wanted to win the regular season and the tournament. Hopefully this will be enough to get us a bye in the first round (of NCAA play)."

The Gators placed three players on the 2000 SEC All-Tournament team, including SEC Tournament MVP Abby Wambach. The is the fifth consecutive year that the tournament MVP was a Gator. For the weekend, Wambach led all scorers with a total of five goals in three matches. Joining Wambach on the SEC All-Tournament team is juniors Keisha Bell and Sellers.

"Actually, I honestly thought And was going to win (the MVP). I thought Andi deserved it. Granted, I had four goals in that first game, but I think Andi came through big for us this weekend. She had some really clutch goals," said Wambach, who became the second Gator to sweep the SEC Player and Tournament MVP awards in the same season. "I really appreciate it – it is really more of a credit to my teammates than anything else."

The Gators now await the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket later this evening. The 48-team bracket will be announced Nov. 5 at 10 p.m. and the first round of play begins on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

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