Nov. 13, 2009

Courtesy of Florida Athletics

COLUMBUS, OHIO - Two second-half goals gave the No. 3 regional seed University of Florida soccer team (16-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) a 2-0 win over Illinois State (12-7-1, 5-1 MVC) in NCAA Championship First Round action held Friday at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

The Gators dominated possession for the opening half but scoring a goal eluded them. The Gators were rewarded for their persistence in the early portion of the second half with a goal. From just inside the box, senior Jessica Eicken chipped the ball to just below the 18-yard line. McKenzie Barney brought the ball down and immediately tapped it left where sophomore Tahnai Annis was making a run. She placed the ball in at the 58th minute, much to the delight of her hometown fan base who made the 55-mile trip west from Zanesville, Ohio, to Columbus to see Annis play.

"I remember Holly (King) made a good cross in the box. It was kind of jumbled around in there. They cleared it, but not all the way, so they were trying to get it out of their box," Annis said. "We got the ball back and I remember Jessica (Eicken) played the ball in. McKenzie (Barney) and I recognized that we could get behind the line. We were all there in position. I saw the ball get through so I just needed to stay composed to get the goal."

More than 50 family and friends made the trip to see the 2007 Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association (OSSCA) Division I Player of the Year perform wearing a Gator uniform. Annis said she could hear them cheering when she scored her sixth goal of the season.

Barney added a goal to go with her assist just over seven minutes later.

"My goal was purely a transition goal. Katie Fraine found Jazmyne Avant who hustled to get up field. I think she played me a one-two at midfield and she went for it. I thought Jazmyne's got it because we had Tahnai (Annis) and Sarah (Chapman) in the box plus other people ready to go," Barney said. "Honestly, I got lucky because I was trailing behind all of them because I had played that ball to Jazmyne near midfield. She played a great ball in. It was more of a 50-50 so I tried my hardest to get it. I was really happy it went in. It wasn't accurate, it was just kind of kick and it went in. It was all Jazmyne's work."

The goal was Barney's eighth of the season, with all of her goals coming in the last 13 matches. She is now second among the Gators with eight goals and 18 points.

Getting the goals was a relief, UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh said.

"We knew this was going to be a tough game because once the game started we could tell that Illinois State was going to sit in a little bit. That's never easy to play against. It can be frustrating and challenging. I thought Illinois State did a good job of staying very compact defensively," Burleigh said. "I was happy when we finally broke them down."

The Gators best opportunity of the opening half came in the 14th minute. Sophomore Sarah Chapman's 20-yard shot hit the cross bar. The ball kicked back into the field of play, but no Gators could get to the rebound before the Redbirds cleared it out.

Florida will now face Oregon State (13-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10) on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. in NCAA Second Round action in Columbus, Ohio. The Beavers defeated Ohio State 3-1 in Friday's opening round action.