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Crystal Frimpong and Jen Gardner each turned in goals in UF's 2-1 SEC first-round win vs. USC.

Thursday November 7, 2002UF Opens SEC Soccer Tournament w/ 2-1 Win vs. USC

OXFORD, Miss. --

Crystal Frimpong and Jen Gardner each turned in goals in UF's 2-1 SEC first-round win vs. USC.

The University of Florida soccer team (9-9-2, 5-3-1 SEC) defeated South Carolina (13-6-2, 4-3-2 SEC) 2-1 Thursday afternoon in the opening round of play Thursday at the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Mississippi Soccer Field. The Gators now meet Louisiana State University in Fridayís semifinal action. LSU upset 2002 SEC regular-season champion Auburn 1-0 in the first match of the day.

Junior Crystal Frimpong scored early for the Gators to give UF a 1-0 first-half lead. Senior Danielle Murphy, who was moved from the backline to an attacking midfielder position on Thursday, sent a through ball to Frimpong. The ball drew the USC goalkeeper out of the goal, and Frimpong was able to hit the 10-yard shot to the far post for her fifth goal of the season at 9:12.

Frimpong was sprained an ankle early in the Gatorsí first meeting with South Carolina on Sept. 29 in Columbia, S.C. The Gators lost that match 1-0 in overtime. It was the first loss ever for the Gators in the all-time series with USC.

"I didnít get to play much in the first match against South Carolina because I got hurt early in the match. I knew that I had to have a spark today. I came out really hard and I got a goal," Frimpong said.

Redshirt freshman Jen Gardner hit her first collegiate goal at 61:47 to give UF a 2-0 lead. Gardner headed in an Ashley Kellgren free kick from eight yards.

"I felt like I knew where Ashley was going to kick the ball. I ran, headed it and it went in," Gardner said. "Vic (UF Assistant Coach Vic Campbell) has me practice headers over and over after practice. It finally paid off."

The Gamecocks narrowed the UF lead to a single goal when Megan McIntyre hit a 25-yard weaving ball from the left side of the box at 77:18. The Gators were able to fend off the additional pressure from the Gamecocks in the final minutes to earn the win.

"We were excited to play South Carolina because it was a loss earlier in the year for us. We were looking for some redemption and it was a must-win game for us, so we were certainly happy with the win," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said. "I thought we didnít play as well in the first half as we did in the second half in terms of our rhythm of play. Getting the second goal made us a little bit more comfortable, but they came back and scored one on us late. That sort of put the pressure on us again. We did a good job of withstanding the pressure because they added another forward and another player in the midfield and I thought we did a good job of dealing with that."

For the match, Florida outshot USC 8-7. UFís Jordan Kellgren turned in two saves Thursday. USCís Elise Matthews turned in four saves in 80 minutes of play. Carolyn Ortega, who recorded no saves, replaced her at 79:04. The Gators did lose another player on Thurday due to injury. Freshman Stephanie Vukovich injured her left knee after just four minutes of play in the first half. She will be examined by UF doctors when the team returns to Gainesville.

Florida, the six-time defending SEC Tournament champion, meets LSU (12-4-3) in the first semifinal match at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Friday, Nov. 8. The match can be heard live on the Internet at www.GatorZone.com.

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