No. 20 Florida cruises in opener
Eagles fall to Gators in first NCAA tournament game
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Two Gator seniors used their heads to give 20th-ranked Florida (17-7, 7-4 SEC) a 3-0 victory against Florida Gulf Coast (14-5-2, 7-1-1 A-Sun) in NCAA tournament first round action on Saturday evening in front of a James G. Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,025.
For the Eagles, it was their first NCAA Division I post-season appearance -- not only for the soccer team, but for the entire FGCU athletic program. The FGCU program received official notice on Aug. 11 that it is now a NCAA Division I program after waiting out the four-year DI transition period.
Tahnai Annis headed in the Gators first goal in the 16th minute. Florida was awarded a corner kick and Erika Tymrak sent in the ball to the far post. Junior Holly King came flying in and got a head on the ball but it deflected up and back to Tymrak located on the end line. She let the ball bounce twice and then took a touch away from the end line before sending a right-footed cross into the box. The ball found the diving head of Annis, located at the top of the six-yard box, and she scored at the far post corner.
Another set piece and another header for Annis put the Gators up 2-0 at the 68th minute. Tymrak was fouled by FGCU’s Brittany Burt on the top edge of the Eagles defensive third. Annie Speese’s left-footed service found the head of Annis in the middle of the box and she redirected the ball into the far post corner for her ninth goal of the season, which stands second on the team.
Saturday’s performance was Annis’ eighth double-goal match of her career and third of the season.
Senior Lindsay Thompson completed Florida’s scoring with a header off the run of play in the 80th minute. The Gators were moving the ball quickly between players located at the middle of the field and the right sideline. When King had the ball in the middle, she saw Speese open at the top of the Eagles defensive third. Speese had space and time to move forward and then right. The ball she sent between two defenders found Annis just outside the corner of the box. Annis sent a ball to the far post, where Lindsay Thompson headed it in for her fourth goal of the season.
For the match, Florida freshman Taylor Burke turned in one save and FGCU goalkeeper Stephanie Powers’ tallied three.