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Florida's Jordan Kellgren receives the SEC Tournament MVP award from Commissioner Mike Slive.

Sunday November 10, 2002UF Soccer Falls 2-1 OT to UT in SEC Tourney Final

OXFORD, Miss. --

Florida's Jordan Kellgren receives the SEC Tournament MVP award from Commissioner Mike Slive.

The University of Florida soccer team (10-10-2, 5-3-1 SEC) saw its chance for a seventh consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament title evaporate when Tennessee (16-5-1) hit the game-winning goal in the 109th minute of the second overtime period Sunday afternoon. It was the third consecutive match between these two teams that the final outcome was a 2-1 overtime decision, but Sunday’s match was the longest of the three. Tennessee won the 2001 regular-season meeting in Knoxville and the Gators won the 2002 regular-season meeting in Gainesville. The win was the first SEC title for the Lady Vols, who prior to this season had never won a post-season match. The Lady Vols receive the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament’s field of 64 and the Gators will hope for an at-large berth.

This was the third overtime match in the history of the SEC Tournament and the second that the Gators were involved in. Florida won their first SEC Tournament in 1996 with a 3-2 win over Arkansas in the second overtime period.

Four Gators were named to Sunday’s SEC All-Tournament team – forwards Crystal Frimpong and Robin Fulton, midfielder Danielle Murphy and goalkeeper Jordan Kellgren. Kellgren, who turned in strong play throughout the tournament, played a spectacular match for the Gators on Sunday, turning in a match- and season-high10 saves. She is the first Gator goalkeeper to be named to the SEC All-Tournament team and the seventh consecutive UF player to be named the SEC Tournament MVP. Kellgren is only the second player in league history to be named the SEC Tournament MVP and not be a member of the championship team.

"How can you not be ready to play in the SEC title game," Kellgren said. "I was feeling hot. I was excited to play and wanted to win. I was ready to do everything in my power to keep us from losing."

The Gators took only one shot in the opening half, but that was scored as a goal. Freshman Candace Rivers sent the ball from just past midfield into the box. Frimpong ran onto the bouncing ball in the box and headed it into the goal at 8:41. It was Frimpong’s sixth goal of the season and second of the SEC Tournament. She also turned in UF’s first goal in Thursday’s 2-1 win vs. South Carolina.

The Lady Vols tied the match at 77:25 when Jen Laughridge scored a short goal directly in front of the net following a Kim Patrick throw-in. The ball was deflected, but landed in front of the far post, where Laughridge was able to convert the shot for the Vols’ first goal.

The match moved to overtime, advancing UF’s season-record of overtime matches to seven. The first 10 minutes of extended play was scoreless, but with just over a minute to play, Keely Dowling hit the winning goal at 108:58 off a Sue Flamini free kick deep in UF territory.

For the match, the Lady Vols outshot the Gators 28-5. In addition to Kellgren’s 10 saves, UF was credited with three backsaves. UT goalkeeper Ellen Dean turned in one save Sunday.

"I was proud of the way we played. We played hard for the entire match. I thought Jordan played a heck of a game. She really kept us in it. We knew they were pretty dangerous on set plays and that Dowling was their target on set plays and for the most part, we had done a pretty good job of containing her until the last play," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said. "I must credit Tennessee for their effort. They obviously had a lot of opportunities and Jordan’s play was a big reason we were in the game. I thought they did a good job of containing Robin and Crystal. Congratulations to Tennessee. It was disappointing for us, but at the same time I was pleased with how hard we played and the effort we put forth.

"I really felt that everyone left it on the field today," she continued. "It is a disappointing result, but unlike some of our other results this season where we had a lot of regrets, I can’t say that any of our players that played today could have any regrets. They played hard. They did what they could do and they laid it on the line. As a coach, what more can you ask?"

Burleigh commented on the play of her senior goalkeeper.

"No one deserved the MVP award more than Jordan. She played out of her mind today – she had some huge saves. She really kept us in it and not just from the saves. Her confidence seemed to spread throughout the team and her leadership was a big boost for our team. Hopefully we will be playing again next week and she will have the opportunity to continue doing that."

Florida now awaits the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on Monday, Nov. 11. The NCAA will reveal the field on ESPNEWS at 4:30 p.m.

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