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Friday October 15, 2004No. 23 Gator Soccer Defeats Mississippi State 4-1

Gainesville, FL

The No. 23 University of Florida soccer team (10-3-2, 4-2-1 SEC) saved all its scoring for the second half, defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-7-3, 2-4-1 SEC) 4-1 Friday evening in front of a James G. Pressly crowd of 1,892.

Florida’s first shot on goal came early in the match. Fans saw freshman Liz Ruberry contribute a first half shot from beyond the 18-yard box. Although surrounded by the Bulldog defense, Ruberry was still able to get a shot off that sailed just right of the goal. Florida posted three shots to MSU’s one, and each team’s goalkeeper recorded one save.

The Bulldogs’ lone shot on goal in the first half, a hard shot from the center by Betty Ann Casey, went high after goalkeeper Brittni Goodwin deflected the ball over the crossbar for a save in the 10th minute to keep the half scoreless.

"Our defense, especially in the last three games, has been really stepping up and playing well," said senior Stephanie Freeman. "I think tonight was no exception. They kept us in it early on, playing so well, and Brittni with that awesome save was huge for us as well."

Freshman Jasmine Johnson put the Gators on the scoreboard early in the second half. Assisted by seniors Monica Hoyles and Ashley Kellgren, Johnson scored the first goal of the match. Hoyles lofted the ball to Kellgren, who bumped it with her chest and trapped it with her knees. Kellgren then fed the ball to Johnson, who placed it in the back right corner of the net in the 48th minute.

"Jasmine is a tough player to mark because she is multi-dimensional," said UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh. "She can beat you going 1-v-1 and she is also technically good enough to play back to goal."

Freeman turned in two long distance goals on Friday for her third multi-goal match of the season. From well outside the box, Freeman with a 25-yard shot, scored in the 67th minute, assisted by junior Jamie Garside. The goal marks UF’s longest of the year, the previous long was Freeman’s 18-yard goal against Missouri on Sept.12. She also hit Florida’s fourth and final goal at 82:23, this time a 20-yard shot. Freeman, who leads the SEC in goals, points and game-winning goals, upped her season totals to 13 goals, 28 points and five game-winning goals.

"Freeman is just so quick," Burleigh said. "Her shot has a quick release, and both of those shots were knuckleballs, so it was hard for any keeper to save those."

"The first goal was set up perfectly," Freeman said. "I just decided to take some chances and they worked out good for me. Overall we are happier with our second half, but we got the win, we scored four goals, so I think we should be happy."

Mississippi State got on the scoreboard in the 69th minute when Goodwin was forced to come off the line facing a possible one-on-one situation with only one defender nearby. Bulldog senior April Berry, assisted by Danielle Smith and Betty Ann Casey, chipped the ball over Goodwin for the goal, making the score 2-1.

Three minutes later, the Gators answered back as sophomore Melanie Booth converted a free kick from 20-yards out to give the Gators a 3-1 cushion. The goal marks Booth’s second collegiate goal, the first of which came against Kentucky just a week ago.

"I think offensively the second was a better half for us," said Burleigh. "I thought we had good possession in both halves. We kept the ball in their half most of the game but I thought our opportunities to score were better in the second half."

The Gators play host to Mississippi on Sunday at 2 p.m. Sunday is Gator Soccer hat day, and the first 700 fans at Pressly Stadium will receive a soccer cap, sponsored by adidas. The match can be heard live on-line at www.GatorZone.com and can be also viewed on GatorVision – complete details are available at www.GatorZone.com.

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