Florida Gators Women’s Tennis Repeats As National Champions

We don’t usually venture out of the comfort zone that is Florida Gators’ football, men’s basketball and baseball. It’s not for a lack of passion toward the variety of other sports the University of Florida has to offer, but more of a resource issue per say (“But TBG, why not just find someone with the time to cover those sports as well?” Not a bad idea.). However, occasionally things happen to push us over the edge of excitement and on Tuesday we were presented with one of those things with the finest of wrapping papers around it.

The Gators defeated the UCLA Bruins 4-0 on Tuesday to claim their second straight national championship. The title was also the sixth in school history. In the “well, that’s a darn good statistic” department, Florida has won six of the last 21 women’s tennis national championships. In addition, the Gators have now won 28 team titles across all sports. The women’s squad has won more championships than any other Florida sport and this was the sixth time in school history that the athletics program has won multiple national championships in one academic year.

Congratulations to the ladies on a very successful season and as always Go Gators!

Florida Gators Baseball Remains No. 1

When you’re the No. 1 team in the nation and you complete a perfect 5-0 week, you aren’t losing your top spot. That’s the case with the Florida Gators who remained the king of the proverbial mountain. The Gators are yet again Baseball America’s No. 1 team.

To the surprise of no one, Florida topped the 25-team strong rankings. And it’s not a fluke of any kind. The Gators have played six games against teams ranked in the top 19 and gone 5-1 in those games. As long as Florida keeps winning, its hold on the top spot will be secure.

The rest of the top four remained the same, but No. 5 Rice dropped to No. 8 after a 2-3 week. No. 9 Georgia also felt the sting of falling. After going 1-3 last week, the Bulldogs settled in at No. 18. UCLA was the week’s big riser, moving from No. 16 to No. 9.

The Gators have a big week ahead of them and it starts Tuesday night against instate rival No. 7 Florida State.

No. 15 UCLA Hands No. 8 Gators Soccer First Loss Of Season

Better late than never. Or maybe not when it’s a game recap of a loss.
On Sunday, no. 15 UCLA ended No. 8 Florida’s hopes of holding on to a perfect season any longer. The Gators soccer team couldn’t find the back of the net and fell 2-0 to the Bruins.
UCLA scored once in each half and netted their second off of a Florida turnover. That’s something the Gators have to work on going forward. They need to be confident in their ability to get the ball out after an opponent’s attack.  The Bruins were able to take advantage of the situation and that was something head coach Becky Burleigh mentioned the team needs to improve: “One goal was off a turnover once again so that is obviously something that we’ve got to spend some time on.”
Although a loss is never something to be pleased about, this game was a learning experience for the Gators early in the season. Florida had its chances, but was unable to capitalize. Losing to a quality UCLA team can happen, but the Gators need to bury shots like they were able to during the first few matches of the season. The season is still young, but how Florida bounces back will tell a lot about what this team can do going forward.
Next up for the Gators: Texas Tech visits Gainesville on Friday at 7:00.

Gators Score In The Final 15 Seconds To Beat The Aggies

Florida moved to 3-0 on Friday and checked off “Dramatic Win” from their list of goals for the season. The no. 8 Gators beat no. 18 Texas A&M 3-2 on a goal by junior midfielder McKenzie Barney with only 15 seconds left in the match.

The second half of the first half (got it?) was full of excitement with two goals by each team. Florida started off the scoring in the 25th minute when freshman Havana Solaun found Erika Tymrak for Tymrak’s first goal of the season. The Gators would hold onto the 1-0 lead for only a little longer than five minutes before the Aggies tied it up on a goal in the 30th minute by Annie Kunz. It would only be about another five minutes later when Texas A&M took the lead in the 36th minute on an unassisted goal by Kelly Monogue. Florida fought back quickly though and in the 39th minute sophomore Taylor Travis got her second goal of the season as she headed home a cross from senior Lindsay Thompson. Four goals – two for each team – in 14 minutes and 13 seconds and the teams headed into the locker room tied 2-2.
Despite the furious goal-scoring pace toward the end of the first half, it would be more than 51 minutes of game time after Travis scored that the game would see another goal. In the 90th minute with 15 seconds left in regulation, senior defender Jazmyne Avant found Barney who would score the game-winner.
Senior goalkeeper Brooke Chancey was given the start and faced a shot-happy Texas A&M team, but still managed to get the win. The Aggies had 21 total shots with seven on goal. Chancey had three saves to move to 2-0 on the season.
Despite getting away from their game plan, the Gators showed the talent they posses and an ability to come from behind. Head coach Becky Burleigh believes Florida has to “be more disciplined,” but was excited the Gators were able to score such spectacular goals.
Next up for the Gators: No. 15 UCLA on Sunday.

As always, a little more about some of the Gators mentioned above…

Barney is a junior midfielder from Sammamish, WA. In 2010, she led the SEC in goals with 14 and game-winning goals with five. Barney has been with the Gators since the 2008 season, but sat out her first year due to injury. Before this season, she had appeared in 47 games with 30 starts. Her goal against Texas A&M was the 23rd of her career and her ninth game-winner.
A senior from Bradenton, FL, Thompson has been adding up honors during her time at Florida. In 2008, she was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team. In 2009, Thompson was a second-team All-SEC selection. And in 2010, she was named to the SEC All-Tournament team. Heading into the 2011 season, Thompson has appeared in 72 games with 39 starts. She has scored 25 career goals and her cross to Travis was her 10th career assist.

Florida Gators Athletics Schedule: August 22-28, 2011

Since discontinuing USF coverage, one of the Bulls’ sites we visit most frequently is SB Nation’s Voodoo Five. They do a lot of things right, but one of those is something we’re going to borrow for the now-in-progress athletic season. Each Monday, Voodoo Five posts the USF athletic schedule for the week. Great idea and one any good fan site should have.

The Florida athletic season kicked off (literally) last week with the women’s soccer team earning victories against Miami and FIU. While we still aren’t in full swing, there are sporting events this week as well. Take a few days off, but as the weekend approaches, Gator athletics get going.
Friday, August 26
Soccer – Texas A&M (First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic) – Knoxville, TN – Sportsradio 850 – 5:30pm
Volleyball – Boston College (Active Ankle Challenge) – Gainesville, FL – 103.7 The Gator – 7:30pm
Saturday, August 27
Volleyball – UNC (Active Ankle Challenge) – Gainesville, FL – Sportsradio 850 – 7:30pm
Sunday, August 28
Soccer – UCLA (First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic) – Knoxville, TN – Sportsradio 850 – 1:30pm

Gators Get Another Win; Florida Tops FIU 2-0

No. 9 Florida got its second win after another 2-0 victory. On Sunday, the Gators beat FIU in Miami to remain undefeated early in the season.

Florida is doing its best to spread goals out early in the season and for the second time scored in both the first half and the second half. To speak to the talent spread across this squad, all three Gators that had points on Sunday didn’t on Friday. Spreading the scoring around is something that has to please head coach Becky Burleigh as Florida finds its groove early in the season.
Tessa Andujar scored for the first time as a Gator in the 40th minute. Her goal was technically unassisted, but was created by a cross put into the box by Jazmyne Avant. The Gators struck again in the 63rd minute when freshman Annie Speese found senior Tahnai Annis who put the ball into the goal from about 12 yards out.
Florida got a good chance to see the depth they possess this season by continuing to get a number of players into the game. While Brooke Chancey got the shutout in the Gators’ season opener, freshman Taylor Burke got the start and was able to hold the opposition scoreless as well. Burke saved all three shots the Golden Panthers had on goal to secure her first victory with Florida.
As we did after the first game, here’s a little more about the players mentioned above…
Andujar is a freshman forward from San Clemente, CA. At San Clemente High School, she was part of teams that went undefeated through their conference schedule during each of her last two seasons. Andujar has been part of the Olympic Development Program since 2005.
A freshman midfielder from Augusta, GA, Speese immediately became TBG’s favorite player when she chose to wear the no. 13 jersey. Speese was a four-time Georgia Independent School Association AAA All-State selection and the Augusta Chronicle’s All-Area Girls Player of the Year three times. While at Westminster, she set school records with 173 career goals and 96 career assists.
Annis is a senior who spends time in the midfield and at forward. Heading into 2011, she had appeared in 71 games and scored 28 goals. With her goal on Sunday, Annis moved up to sixth on Florida’s career points list with 72.
A freshman goalkeeper from Medina, OH, Burke was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American in 2010 and the organization’s Ohio Player of the Year. In 2010, she set an Ohio record with 15 consecutive shutouts which was also tops in the nation that season.
The Gators have a few days off before heading to Knoxville, TN to play in the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic. Florida will play no. 11 (and possible future SEC foe) Texas A&M on Friday and no. 16 UCLA on Sunday.

Recap: #2 Florida Gators 73 – #7 UCLA Bruins 65

Erving Walker saved his best for the last few minutes of the game.  He scored 10 of Florida’s (28-7) last 12 points and did so all in the final four minutes of the game.  Walker played well throughout, hitting 3-of-5 from behind the arch, 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and only committing one turnover.  “Big Shot Erv” was clearly the Gators’ most valuable player and came up huge when fellow guard Kenny Boynton went down.  UCLA (23-11) kept it close throughout and without Walker’s heroics, may have been able to pull off the upset, but as it was, the Gators knocked the Bruins out of the tournament for the third time in six years.

This is becoming one of those rivalries that one team absolutely hates to be a part of and the other welcomes the challenge.  The two don’t face each other in the regular season – although a home-and-home would be nice to see sometime soon – but keep matching up in the NCAA Tournament.  The Gators have met the Bruins in three of the last four tourneys they have appeared in.  For Florida, the results have always been positive.  For UCLA, they most likely would rather face anyone else at this point.
The Bruins’ massive center – Josh Smith – played well on the offensive end, but did little on defense and ended up not being much of a factor.  Smith scored 16 points and five of his six rebounds were offensive ones, but that was the only side of the court where he made a difference.  And it wasn’t that he dominated the offensive boards either.  Florida had 23 defensive rebounds, led by Alex Tyus’s 10.  Smith was able to use his size to his advantage, but it didn’t end up hurting the Gators.
Florida now moves on to the Sweet 16 where it will face another familiar tourney foe – BYU.  The Cougars knocked the Gators out of the tournament last year and would be happy to do it again.  BYU only lost four times this season, but had an interesting common opponent with Florida.  The Cougars lost to the Bruins on December 18.  It was four months ago, but it could give the Gators some insight into how to play the Cougars.  The Elite Eight is on the line.

Preview: #2 Florida Gators vs. #7 UCLA Bruins, 3/19, 2:45

Here we go.  Round two.  Florida (27-7) versus UCLA (23-10).  We’ve seen this matchup before in the NCAA Tournament.  Only a few years ago in two cases.  The Gators defeated the Bruins to win their first National Championship.  Then only a year later, defeated UCLA again, this time in the Final Four.  This game isn’t as big as either of those was.  Or is it?  It’s a single elimination tournament (just making sure you know these things, that’s what we’re here for), so each game is just as important.  Just win.  Just move to the next round.

The Gators got here with all-around play being their advantage.  Guards who can shoot, forwards who can play down low.  Florida has the ability to adjust to varying playing styles of opponents.  This one could be the big test.  UCLA has a center that is anything but small.  Josh Smith measures in at 6’10”.  Okay, so that’s not that big of a deal.  He also weighs 325.  That is.  The Gators will be tested down low and will have to defend Smith effectively enough to not let the Bruins take advantage of, well, that advantage they have.
What should swing things Florida’s way is their athleticism.  They have a number of players who can take the ball down the court.  Their speed off the dribble and ability to shoot from almost anywhere on the court gives them the edge and makes them the favorite.  But UCLA isn’t a pushover either.  It’s a program with a lot of history and although history doesn’t matter, they’re a team that can be better than their seed indicates.
The Bruins are 10-3 over their last 13.  The Gators are 11-3 over their last 14.  Both teams have played well as of late.  Florida had the easier game on Thursday, running over UC Santa Barbara while UCLA was taken to the wire by Michigan State.  In the Big Dance though, every game before the current one has to be forgotten.  But momentum is a funny thing.  While the Gators walked over their first-round opponent, the Bruins allowed the Spartans to come charging back in the second half.
The Sweet 16 is at stake and it always seems like that is the measuring stick for the tourney.  If you lose in the first or second round, no one remembers.  If you make it to the Sweet 16, you’ve hit the first milestone.  This game is for that.  It’s a new tournament next week, and you have to get there.

Recap: #2 Florida Gators 79 – #15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 51

The NCAA Tournament selection committee thought Florida (27-7) was worthy of a 2 seed.  UC Santa Barbara (18-14) coach Bob Williams now does too“I mean, anybody that think they’re, in my opinion, overrated as a 2 seed, I think you’re wrong.”  Williams got a first-hand look at just how dangerous the Gators can be as Florida ran through his Gauchos on the way to the second round.

The Gators started the game on a hot streak on both ends of the court.  By halftime, the game was over with Florida leading 43-19.  The Gators won on the scoreboard and every other aspect of the game.  Florida shot 54.7% from the field compared to only 36.2% for UC Santa Barbara.  The Gators also won the rebound, assist, and turnover battle.
It was a win exactly like you would have drawn up.  4-seed Louisville was upset by 13-seed Morehead State, 13-seed Princeton took 4-seed Kentucky to the final seconds before the Wildcats edged out a victory, and 5-seed Vanderbilt and 6-seed St. John’s are going home.  But Florida took their first opportunity to impress and ran with it.  As a high seed, you should make quick work of your first-round opponent.  Struggle and you head into that second round game with an aura of uncertainty surrounding your team and your chances for a second victory.  It happens quite frequently.  High seed stumbles in round one, but edges out a close win, and then proceeds to lose the next game.
Florida didn’t stumble though.  They came out shooting the ball well and played suffocating defense early.  They looked like a two seed.  They looked like a team that could advance further.  They looked like this win was just the beginning.
Up next for the Gators is a familiar foe.  On Saturday, Florida faces UCLA (23-10).  The Gators beat the Bruins in the final of the 2006 NCAA Tournament to win the National Championship and defeated the Bruins again the following year in the Final Four.

Florida Gators Get Southeast’s #2 Seed, Will Face UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

In a bit of a surprise move, #12 Florida (26-7, 15-4 SEC) got the Southeast’s #2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  Over the past week, many have expected the Gators to end up somewhere between a 2- and a 4-seed, but a #2 seemed like a long shot.  After losing the SEC Championship to Kentucky earlier today, it seemed almost guaranteed the Gators wouldn’t be seeded higher than #3.  The winner of that game – the Wildcats – ended up in the East as a #4, and the loser secured a #2 somehow.

Gator fans won’t complain, but many will probably scratch their heads.  Florida’s reward for the #2 seeding is a March 17 matchup with 15-seed UC Santa Barbara (18-13, 11-8 Big West).  The Gators won’t have to travel far as they will play the Gauchos in Tampa.  The winner gets either 7-seed UCLA or 10-seed Michigan State.  Yes, Florida has faced both in NCAA Championship Games.
Being a 2-seed is a great thing for the Gators.  Not having to travel far to play their first two games is too.  It’s a little shocking, but Florida had a great regular season, played well enough in the SEC Tournament, and despite the recent loss to Kentucky is one of the nation’s hottest teams over their last 12.  Now that the Gators know their opponent, they can truly start to prepare for the NCAA Tournament.