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Sunday November 22, 1998Florida Soccer Team Defeats Northwestern 1-0

Gainesville, FL

The No. 2 seeded University of Florida soccer team survived a hard fought battle to defeat No. 20 Northwestern 1-0 Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in front of a crowd of 1,431 at Percy Beard Stadium.

Florida’s lone score came with just under three minutes left in the first half when Danielle Fotopoulos turned on a Wildcat defender and buried a shot past goalkeeper Erin Ekeberg. The goal was Fotopoulos' 117th of her career and gave her the NCAA all-time women’s scoring record at 280 points, surpassing U.S. national team member Mia Hamm’s collegiate mark of 278. She broke the NCAA All-Time Career Goals record in mid-October, passing both the women’s record of 103 and the men’s record of 109 goals.

"Going into my season, I never had a goal to break these records, but it has always been a goal to win a national championship," Fotopoulos said.

Florida (23-1) had many chances to pad their lead in the second half, outshooting the Wildcats 17-1. Repeatedly, though, the Gators’ shots were turned away by Ekeberg, who set her season-high in saves with 13. Florida also had a scoring chance robbed when Abby Wambach’s header beat Ekeberg but was cleared off the back line by a Wildcat player.

The Gators’ once again switched to a three-forward formation to create scoring chances and they outshot the Wildcats 26-5 in the match. The formation switch led to a great deal of pressure and activity in front of the Wildcats goal.

"Our game was pretty solid, just a little bit of a lack of attention to detail in terms of getting in on the end of crosses," Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh said.

The formation switch also affected the Florida defense, leaving it with only three in the back. Florida’s defensive trio of Heather Mitts, Keisha Bell, and Erin Gilhart was able to shut down Northwestern (16-5-1) and forced the majority of the match to be played in Florida’s half of the field.

"Our defenders were very well organized today," Burleigh said. "Once we feel like we if can match up with their forwards, it is very difficult for a team because of our athleticism back there."

Meredith Flaherty had three saves for the Gators and now has 8.53 shutouts on the season.

Florida advances to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament and plays Penn State (21-3-1) on Sunday, Nov. 29, at Percy Beard Stadium at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for UF students, senior citizens, and children 17 and under.

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