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Friday November 5, 1999Soccer Advances to SEC Final with 3-0 Win Over VU


Three goals by sophomore Abby Wambach gave the No. 2 University of Florida soccer team (20-1) a 3-0 win over Vanderbilt (9-10-1) in Friday's semifinal of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, held in front of a Vanderbilt Soccer Field crowd of 1,221. The Gators, who are looking for their fourth-consecutive SEC Tournament title, will face second-seeded Mississippi in Sunday's tournament final at 2 p.m. (ET). Mississippi advanced to its first SEC Tournament final by defeating Georgia 1-0 in Friday's first semifinal match.

The Gators wanted to put together a better performance than their opening round match vs. Arkansas on Thursday, where UF was forced to come from behind twice before finally posting a 4-3 win.

"We felt like we had something to prove coming out today and we knew we could put together a better performance than yesterday. We talked about some of the things we needed to do specifically as far as tactics, but more than anything, I think it was the mental side of the game for us, having confidence and playing for each other," UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said.

The Gators controlled play Friday, keeping the ball in the Commodores' territory for most of the evening. For the match, UF outshot VU 21-2, as the Commodores got off a single shot in each half.

Florida got its first goal at 28:07 when Wambach headed in a Danielle Murphy corner kick from six yards. Wambach scored again at 46:41, hitting a right-footed shot from eight yards. The play was set up when the Gators were awarded a free kick deep in Vanderbilt's half. Murphy served the ball into the box, where it bounced around until sophomore Keisha Bell sent it back into the box, where Wambach received it, turned and then hit the goal.

"Murphy does all the work. It comes to my head and I just try to put it near the goal - sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't. She does all the hard work," Wambach said. "Coming off a game like yesterday, I wasn't really worrying about my personal goals - I just really care about winning. Our team is so great - I'm glad that we came out strong today and came out with a win."

The final goal came at 78:55, when freshman Kara Rao crossed the ball into the box from deep in Vanderbilt's half. Wambach hit her second header of the evening from eight yards to complete her third collegiate hat trick.

UF's goalkeeper, Jordan Kellgren, turned in two saves Friday. Vanderbilt's Jessie Wolfe posted 10 saves.

Sunday's championship match will air live on Sunshine in the following Gainesville area counties - Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Marion. The match will air on a tape-delayed basis at 3:30 p.m. across the remainder of the state.

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