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The Gators braved chilly temperatures in UF's 3-0 win over UM in the SEC Tournament semifinal.

Friday November 5, 2004No. 16 UF Soccer Advances to SEC Final with 3-0 Win Over UM

AUBURN, Ala. -

The Gators braved chilly temperatures in UF's 3-0 win over UM in the SEC Tournament semifinal.

Two goals by Cherry Pickman and a goal by Stephanie Freeman advanced the No. 16 University of Florida soccer team (15-3-3, 7-2-2) to its ninth consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament final with a 3-0 win over Mississippi (9-10-2, 4-5-2) Friday at the Auburn University Soccer Complex. Florida now meets No. 8 Tennessee, a 1-0 winner over Vanderbilt in Fridayís other semifinal, for the third consecutive year in the SEC Tournament final. That match can be seen live Sunday on Sunshine at 3:30 p.m.

The last three matches between Florida and Mississippi were extended to overtime, with the most recent meeting on Oct. 17 in Gainesville resulting in a 0-0 double overtime tie. UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh talked about the differences between Fridayís match and the one three weeks earlier.

"The pace of the game was a lot faster (tonight). I think when we scored, in this situation (at the SEC Tournament), it made them play a little more aggressively. They had to send players forward, which created more opportunities for us. In Gainesville (the last meeting between UF and UM), since it was a tie, the match slowed down quite a bit and they (UM) wanted to tie. The pace of the game was very slow. We tried to pick up the pace, but it was very difficult because they just sat it (the box)."

The Gators outshot the Rebels 9-2 in the opening half, but it was Freemanís header on the final Florida shot of the half at 32:51 that finally put UF on the board. Each of the four Gator seniors played a part in the goal. Monica Hoyles sent a free kick into the box, where Christine Johnson sent it to the near post. Ashley Kellgren flicked it across the goal where Freeman put the ball in at the far post. The goal was the 16th of the season for the two-time SEC Player of the Year, who leads the conference in goals and points (35).

"I think it was huge for us to score three goals and especially one in the first half. Weíve been having trouble scoring in the first half, so that was a positive thing," Freeman said. "All four seniors had a part in the first goal so we kind of made a big deal about it. Monica to Christine to Ashley to me - that was pretty exciting."

Floridaís second goal started when Freeman was fouled at the edge of the box. Melanie Booth took the free kick and Pickman was able to put the ball in at the far post at 62:18.

"Mel drove a perfect ball in and I just stuck my leg out. I really didnít have to do anything," Pickman said. "It was a really good paced ball."

But the scoring wasnít over for Pickman. She found herself with the ball in the Mississippi defensive third with numbers to her advantage. Pickman did a skillful job of bringing the ball down into the box. The defenders split as Lindsey Affolter came down the other side of the box. Pickman looked to pass to Affolter, but at the last second took the six-yard shot herself for her second goal of the match at 76:48. The goal was the fourth for Pickman this season and the third in the last four matches. She becomes the fourth Gator this season to turn in a multi-goal match.

"I had gotten the go-ahead from Vic (Campbell, UF Associate Head Coach) to take people on so I did and I just was able to finish it off," Pickman said.

Burleigh said the Gators took care of their No. 1 goal for the evening, advance to the SEC final.

"We wanted to advance and we did that. Two matches and two shutouts Ė Iím pleased with that also," Burleigh said. "We really put together some great combination play, particularly in the first half. I think all of our goals were pretty good goals. I was really pleased with the defenseís ability to keep the play in front of them. We knew they were dangerous over the top. They had some shots from far out, especially in the second half, but they didnítí get behind us that often so that is a credit to our defense."

For the match, UF outshot UM 13-9. UF goalkeeper Jen Gardner turned in two saves while UMís Ann Shelton posted two saves.

The No. 3 seed Gators will meet Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. (ET) in Sundayís final match. In the regular season meeting, Florida was defeated 2-1 2OT by Tennessee in Gainesville. Sundayís match can be heard live on the official website of the Florida Gators, www.GatorZone.com.

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