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Megan McMillan got the game-winning goal in Florida's 3-1 SEC Tournament win vs. Vanderbilt.

Thursday November 6, 2003UF Soccer Opens SEC Tournament with 3-1 Win vs VU

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -

Megan McMillan got the game-winning goal in Florida's 3-1 SEC Tournament win vs. Vanderbilt.

The No. 8 University of Florida soccer team (15-3-1, 6-2-1 SEC) advanced to the Southeastern Conference semifinal round Thursday with a 3-1 win over Vanderbilt (8-7-3, 3-4-2 SEC) in the final match of the opening round. It marks the eighth consecutive season the Gators have advanced to the tournament’s semifinal round.

The Gators found themselves playing from behind for the seventh time this season when the Commodores took a 1-0 advantage off a long-distance goal. Vanderbilt took the early lead at 18:03 when Jennifer Lewis hit a 30-yard shot that hit the crossbar and rebounded into the goal.

Although it was the first time the Gators had trailed the Commodores since the 1999 regular season, Florida did not lose composure and continued to pressure the VU goal. The Gators tied the match off a play that began deep in the Florida half. Freshman defender Ansley Myrick sent a ball past midfield, which found the head of junior Ashley Kellgren. The ball that she flicked back found senior Robin Fulton in full stride as she was able to bring the ball into the box and hit the 18 yard shot to the far post.

Florida got the go-ahead goal late in the opening half. Freshman Melanie Booth threw the ball in to Kellgren, who crossed the ball in front of the goal. Senior Megan McMillan headed the cross into the goal at 42:52. It was the third consecutive match with a goal for the senior tri-captain, who now shares the Gators’ 2003 goals lead at seven with Kellgren.

"We had a pre-match meeting with Danielle Fotopoulos and Erin Baxter (co-captains of UF’s 1998 NCAA Championship team). They asked us to tell what our goals were for the game and when it was my turn, I said I was going to score. I had people holding me accountable and I did it," McMillan said. "It is disappointing anytime anyone scores on us, but that got us more pumped up. We came together as a team and said ‘Come on Gators, we can do this.’ Robin got it started and from then on it was all good."

The Gators opened the second half with an early goal from senior Crystal Frimpong. VU goalkeeper Esther Thompson deflected a Gator cross, but Frimpong took advantage of the opportunity to attack the open net for her sixth goal of the season at 48:35.

"The match was a good test for us because we went down a goal early and we had to come back. I felt like it was a big momentum swing for us to score the second goal right before halftime. To get the third goal early sort of gave us a cushion. Overall it was a good performance and we are happy to be moving on to the next round," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said.

For the match, the Gators outshot VU 11-6. UF goalkeeper Brittni Goodwin turned in two saves while Thompson posted four saves.

Next up, Florida will meet Georgia (12-8, 4-5 SEC) in the SEC Tournament semifinal round on Friday, Nov. 7 at 8:30 EST. UGA advanced to the Friday’s semifinal round with a 2-1 double overtime win over SEC Western Division champion Auburn. Gator soccer fans can hear play-by-play action of the match beginning at 8:30 p.m. at www.GatorZone.com. The "player" software (Windows Media Player or Real Player) needed to hear the Internet broadcast is available for free at the same site.

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