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Senior Megan McMillan scored twice in UF's 4-1 SEC Tournament semifinal win vs. Georgia.

Friday November 7, 2003UF Soccer Defeats Georgia 4-1 in SEC Tourney Semi

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -

Senior Megan McMillan scored twice in UF's 4-1 SEC Tournament semifinal win vs. Georgia.

The No. 8 University of Florida soccer team (16-3-1, 6-2-1 SEC) defeated Georgia (12-9, 4-5 SEC) 4-1 in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, held Friday evening in front of an Orange Beach Soccer Sportsplex crowd of 678. Florida now advances to its eighth consecutive SEC Tournament final, where it will meet No. 18 Tennessee, which advanced after defeating Mississippi 2-0 in the evening’s first semifinal.

The Georgia Bulldogs looked to take the early lead in the second minute when senior Jessica Winton took advantage of UF goalkeeper Brittni Goodwin out of goal. Winton was called for a foul and the goal did not stand. Florida also got a key backsave from freshman Melanie Booth early in the match. She raced in to clear the Georgia shot off the line, preventing a sure score for the Bulldogs.

Florida got on the board at 38:31 when senior Dena Floyd, standing just a few steps within midfield, served a ball past the UGA backline. Senior Robin Fulton ran onto the ball and hit the 14-yard shot to the far post. It was the third consecutive match with a goal for Fulton, who now has four goals on the season.

"I struggled with scoring at points of the season, but my coaches said that once you get one it just keeps continuing, so I guess that is what is happening," Fulton said.

The Gators scored again when senior Megan McMillan hit her eighth goal of the season at 55:33. Ashley Kellgren and Melanie Booth combined to bring the ball in on the corner kick and Booth served the ball into the box, where McMillan headed it in from eight yards.

Florida took a 3-0 lead at 64:25 when Dena Floyd sent the ball to Stephanie Freeman, who was standing at the top of the box. She settled the ball and then hit the shot that curled under the upper bar for her seventh goal of the season.

McMillan added her second goal of the match at 71:31 when Fulton brought the ball deep into UGA territory. She crossed the ball across the goal, where McMillan hit her team-leading ninth goal of the season. McMillan has now turned in five goals in the last four matches. It was also her second multi-goal match of the season, as McMillan also turned in two goals vs. Jacksonville.

"I’m grateful that I’m getting great opportunities, like from Robin (Fulton)," McMillan said. "She’s giving me great crosses and I try to be there to finish them."

The SEC season scoring leader, Jessica Winton, put in a short shot in front of the goal at 89:18 to give the Bulldogs their only score of the match.

The match was a physical - typical of an UF-UGA contest. The two teams combined for 36 fouls, which matches the SEC Tournament record. Georgia edged Florida 14-13 in the shot count for the match. Goodwin turned in 10 saves, while UGA’s Ashley Lindley posted two saves.

"We knew it would be a physical match, so we weren’t surprised by the contact," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said. "I’d like to credit Georgia. They played hard the entire match. They scored a goal in the final minute so they never quit. You have to give credit to them because they played hard the whole time.

"In the initial the 15 minutes or so, we had to sort out exactly how we were going to play with their three forwards up top. I think once we sorted that out, we were much more solid. I felt like our defense was very, very good tonight," she continued. "The game obviously could have changed if they had scored that one that Mel Booth cleared off the line. That was turning point even though it was very early. I didn’t even see her coming – it was a huge save by her. Once we got over that, I felt like we were in control back there as far as keeping the play in front of us, which is what we wanted to do."

Next up, Florida will meet Tennessee (15-4-1, 7-1-1 SEC) in the SEC Tournament final on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 3:30 EST. Tennessee defeated UF 2-1 in double-overtime in last year’s SEC Tournament final, snapping Florida’s string of six consecutive tournament titles. The match will be broadcast live on SEC-TV and Florida fans in the Gainesville/Ocala Cox Cable area can watch the match live on Cox Cable channel 15. Sunshine subscribers in the Miami area can watch the match live.

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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