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Friday November 12, 2004Soccer Falls 3-2 to UCF in NCAA Opening Round

Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida soccer team (16-4-3) was defeated 3-0 by UCF (17-3-2) on a rainy Friday afternoon in the NCAA Championship opening round. It was the first win for UCF in the nine-match series between the two teams. The two teams have met twice before in NCAA First Round action, with the Gators taking the win last season 3-2 in OT and in 2001 (4-0). The Golden Knights will meet the winner of the Florida State-Boson College match on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. in NCAA Second Round action at the James G. Pressly Stadium.

The Gators found themselves down 3-0 after 55 minutes of play and was hoping to again find the magic that led Florida back from a 3-0 deficit to Mississippi in 2003 NCAA play. Florida scored twice in the final 10 minutes, but couldn’t find the tying goal to recreate its 2003 comeback, which stands as the biggest comeback in tournament history.

The Gators first got on the board at 81:12 when senior Stephanie Freeman put in a 20-yard free kick. She finishes the season as the Gators’ goal (17) and points (37) points leader.

"We have come back from a deficit before so we all thought about that," said Freeman. "After they scored their third goal, I could look around and not one person had their head down. I saw people trying to get people up and going. Because we had done it before, scored four goals in 20 minutes, we knew we could do it. It isn't in our nature to give up, especially for our seniors."

Florida pulled within one goal in the 86th minute when Monica Hoyles, who was pushed up to the frontline from the backline for the second consecutive match, scored on a five-yard shot off the assist from freshman Jasmine Johnson.

Florida’s extra push to score came off of UF’s formation change in the second half.

"Part of the reason there was a lot more activity offensively was because we went to a 3-4-3, which is a pretty risky offensive set-up because they were playing three forwards and three in the back," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said. "It is not something you want to do in the beginning of the game. I think another reason is that UCF went into "protect the lead" mode, where they dropped several people back. It was a combination of those two factors."

But it was earlier scoring opportunities that didn’t materialize that will haunt the Gators. Among those opportunities included defender Melanie Booth’s 25-yard free-kick attempt that was denied by UCF goalkeeper Julie Snaman. Less than four minutes later, Booth had another opportunity from 25-yards out, but leaned back a little too far, sending the shot just high of the goal. In the second half, Jasmine Johnson found herself in the 1v1 situation with the UCF goalkeeper after some impressive footwork to free herself of her defenders. Johnson’s shot just missed the near post and hit the side netting.

"We knew all week that UCF was going to give us a game," said Burleigh. "It wasn’t a surprise because we knew they were a good team. We talked about it all week and it was just a matter of us just not finishing on our opportunities, especially in the second half. I thought we had a lot of very good opportunities we just didn’t finish. You have to give credit to UCF for preventing us from finishing on those opportunities."

The Golden Knight scoring began at 42:57 when they converted on a penalty kick to take 1-0 lead into halftime. Courtney Baines hit the goal to keep her season record perfect at four successful penalty kicks.

With almost nine minutes played in the second half, UCF tacked on another goal as Jennifer Montgomery’s 23-yard shot ricocheted off the crossbar and into the goal. Within 30 seconds, the Golden Knights added another goal as Kendra Flock converted a Baines corner kick to increase the margin 3-0.

"What a great game, we scored some incredible goals," Head Coach Amanda Cromwell said. "This was basically one of those games that I was never comfortable with 3-0 because I know the attacking ability of Florida and I know their athleticism, and it showed. They scored two goals in a four-minute span with 10 minutes to go in the game. So I was very thankful that we had a three-goal cushion. But at the same time Florida never gave up and showed a lot of heart and class with that."

End of report

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