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In a match not lacking for storylines, Madison Barney faces older sister, McKenzie, in Friday's NCAA Second Round match.

Thursday November 15, 2012Gators Focused for Another NCAA Soccer Showdown with Knights

Gainesville, Fla.

In a match not lacking for storylines, Madison Barney faces older sister, McKenzie, in Friday's NCAA Second Round match.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

You could say they know each other well.

Here we are again in the second round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament and it's Florida versus UCF for a berth in the Sweet 16.

NCAA Second Round

Friday, Nov. 16 at James G. Pressly Stadium

4:30 p.m. Notre Dame versus Wake Forest

7 p.m. Florida versus UCF

Tickets: $7 for adults and $3 for youth 12 & under.
Contact the UAA Ticket Office at 352-375-4683 x6800 or 1-800-34GATOR, ext. 6800 (state of Florida only)

Gators versus Knights. SEC versus Conference-USA. McKenzie Barney versus Madison Barney.

Yes, the familiarity between these two successful programs extends all the way to the same household.

The Barney sisters grew up in Seattle and McKenzie, a redshirt senior for the Gators, opted to move across country for college. Three years later her younger sister Madison decided to do the same, signing with UCF.

The day after Florida's first-round win Friday over Florida Gulf Coast, McKenzie headed to Orlando to watch Madison play in UCF's first-round match against Miami.

The trash talk was on the friendly side as UCF advanced past the Hurricanes and back to Gainesville, where the Knights have played 10 postseason matches since 2001.

"You would never guess we're playing against each other the way we talk to each other,'' McKenzie said.

The Barney sisters add just another storyline to a matchup that isn't lacking for one.

This is the fourth time the Gators (18-4-1) and Knights (17-4-2) have met in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament in the past six seasons. Florida won in 2007 and 2008. The Knights survived a year ago and advanced all the way to the Elite 8.

"They are a dangerous counterattacking team. That's how they beat us last year. They defend really hard. They don't get scored on very often,'' Gators coach Becky Burleigh said. "It's not going to be an easy game. Then you throw on top of it the whole rivalry factor. These are two really good teams that are having to meet in the second round."

If Burleigh and others had their way, a matchup like this would come later in the tournament. Instead, here they are again meeting in the second round at 7 on Friday night at Pressly Stadium.

The Gators did what they wanted in their 2-0 win over FGCU in the first round. Florida maintained possession 68 percent of the time and used its high-energy offensive attack to create 19 shots. FCGU was so busy chasing the Gators around the field that the Eagles didn't manage a shot.

UCF is a defensive-oriented team that likes to cash in on opponents' mistakes and then hunker down defensively.

There will be few surprises when the teams run onto the field for introductions.

"It's always a good game,'' Florida sophomore midfielder Annie Speese said. "We are going to have to come out and play at our best level. We can expect a battle. They know us very well and we know them pretty well."

The 3-2 loss to the Knights last season was especially difficult for Speese, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear to her right knee just over a minute after scoring on a free kick.

UCF scored first, and after the Gators tied the match in the 24th minute, the Knights extended the lead to 3-1 until Speese's goal in the 85th minute. However, the Gators couldn't overcome the deficit in the final minutes and had to watch the Knights celebrate on their home field.

They don't want a repeat.

"It's always kind of an emotional match,'' Gators senior Erika Tymrak said of facing UCF. "I think the most important thing is that we focus on what our team can do.

"This year we've gone down in goals early and we've had the composure to basically look at each other and say, 'We're fine, just keep on passing and basically have faith in our system.' I think we have been doing really well with that."

Tymrak had a hand in both of Florida's goals against FCGU, scoring one in the first half and then assisting on Speese's goal in the second half.

The Gators dominated play so much that goalkeeper Taylor Burke was rarely challenged.

The Florida-UCF winner will face the opener Friday at Pressly Stadium -- Wake Forest against Notre Dame -- on Sunday at 1 in the Sweet 16.

Barney remembers having to watch her sister and the Knights celebrate last season. She was out with a concussion and facial fractures suffered in the regular-season finale and did not play.

She hopes this year is different. The return of senior defender Kathryn Williamson against FGCU after a two-month absence added an extra boost.

"I was really mad that we lost but at the same time I was happy for my sister. It was a very mixed-emotion game,'' Barney said. "We're feeling good with how we're playing. To have our All-American, our captain and our leader back is huge for us. It is such a boost to everyone to see her playing again."

So, here we are again. Florida versus UCF with a Sweet 16 berth on the line.

Speese summed it up perfectly.

"We all have serious attitudes,'' she said. "It's business time."




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