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Florida's 2001 season ended Friday with a 3-2 OT loss to Santa Clara in the NCAA College Cup semis.

Friday December 7, 2001UF Soccer Falls 3-2OT to Santa Clara in NCAA Semis

DALLAS, Texas -

Florida's 2001 season ended Friday with a 3-2 OT loss to Santa Clara in the NCAA College Cup semis.

A Santa Clara goal three minutes into overtime ended Florida’s hopes for a storybook ending in Friday’s NCAA College Cup semifinal match. The No. 6 seeded University of Florida soccer team overcame a 2-0 deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation, but lost to No. 2 seed Santa Clara (22-2, 6-1 WCC) 3-2 in overtime in front of a Gerald J. Ford Stadium crowd of 6,117. The Broncos now meet top-seed North Carolina in the NCAA Championship match on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3:00 p.m. (ET). The Tar Heels advanced to the final with a 2-1 win vs. Portland in the evening’s first semifinal match.

"First off, we are very disappointed with the loss, but I am very proud of our player never giving up tonight and coming back like they did," Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh said.

Santa Clara hit the first goal late in the first half. The Broncos brought the ball down the middle of the field and All-American Aly Wagner sent the ball to the middle of the box. Florida goalkeeper Jordan Kellgren came out to cut off the ball, but SCU’s Veronica Zepeda just beat her to it and hit the empty net goal at 41:10.

The Broncos moved ahead 2-0 when SCU took a quick restart on the free kick. Wagner sent the ball to the middle of the box, where Leslie Osborne hit the eight-yard shot at 76:43.

"The whole season, I’ve lined up at the back post and she puts the ball right there," Osborne said. "We have scored a lot of goals like that. She (Wagner) can just put the ball on the spot. All I do is run."

The Gators scored twice in the final seven minutes of regulation for the team’s second consecutive overtime match. Senior Abby Wambach sent the through ball to Crystal Frimpong, who then raced down the middle of the box to hit the eight-yard shot at 83:37. It was Frimpong’s fourth goal of the season and her second in the last two matches.

Katie Johnston (#31, far right) hit a header at 86:57 to tie the match at 2-all.

Freshman Katie Johnston couldn’t have picked a better time to score the first goal of her collegiate career, as she hit a header off a free kick at 86:57 to tie the match at 2-all. The goal was set up when Frimpong was fouled near the goal line. Casey Hamel sent the free kick to the back post, where Johnston hit the short header.

"In the last 10 minutes of the game, everyone was pushing forward, everyone was pushing up to the ball," Johnston said. "I saw it coming and I went for it."

The match ended at 93:47 when SCU’s Veronica Zepeda’s 16-yard shot banged off the crossbar and fell into the goal.

Friday’s match was a rematch of the 1998 NCAA Semifinal Round, which Florida won 1-0. The eventually went on to win the NCAA title with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina.

"I think we would have been so disappointed if it had ended up 2-0 just because we would have felt like we had left a little bit on the field. To get the goals we did from unlikely sources – it just showed a lot of heart and a lot of courage on our team’s part to take risks and to believe in themselves and in each other. It made me really proud to coach them," Burleigh said. "Honestly, I’m as proud of this team as I was of the one in ’98. It was just a tremendous comeback and the reason it was so tremendous was because it was a team effort. You could see everyone out there yelling at each other ‘Believe, Believe’ and they did. It wasn’t skill, it wasn’t tactics, it was just them believing in each other."

Wambach, who ends her Gator career as Florida’s career leader in goals (96), assists (50) and points (242), echoed Burleigh’s sentiments.

"We believed in ourselves. We may not be the most talented squad in the College Cup, but what matters is we put it all on the line. That’s the type of team this we. It’s not the storybook ending I expected, but I couldn’t be more proud of this team," Wambach said.

For the match, SCU outshot the Gators 20-8. Florida’s Kellgren turned in seven saves and SCU’s Alyssa Sobolik turned in two saves.

Florida ends the season with a 21-4-1 record. The Gators claimed its sixth consecutive Southeastern Conference title in 2001 and this was Florida’s second trip to the NCAA semifinals in the team’s seven-year history.

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