Nov. 4, 2010

Courtesy of Florida Athletics

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - Two goals each from the Gators top two scorers helped the No. 7 University of Florida soccer team (16-2-2, 9-1-1 SEC) to a 5-3 win over Vanderbilt (8-10-2, 4-5-2 SEC) in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament held Thursday at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.

The tournament's opening round of play was delayed 24 hours due to unplayable field conditions at the Orange Beach SportsPlex on Wednesday after the area received heavy rains over a two-day period.

Thursday's match was a roller-coaster ride as the Commodores, who registered all three of its goals in the second half, used two goals within a nine-minute span to tie the score at 3-all. Two Gators, Tahnai Annis and McKenize Barney, each scored their second goals of the match in the final six minutes of regulation to give UF the final margin. Annis and Barney are tied for the Gators' season lead as each have turned in a career season-high 12 goals in 2010.

Thursday's match equaled the highest scoring output for both teams combined for the Gators this season, matching the eight goals scored in UF's 7-1 win over Mississippi State on Oct. 1.

Only one of those eight goals came in the opening half. Lindsay Thompson was deep in the Vanderbilt half when she crossed the ball across the mouth of the Commodore goal. Her cross found Annis' head, who scored in the 27th minute.

These two had connected on a very similar goal in UF's 1-0 win at Georgia during the 2009 season. Annis knew the goal was possible once Thompson struck it.

"I knew once Lindsay Thompson got it out on the flank, she was going to be looking for the cross. I got in the box , then I was screaming her name because I knew she would find me and she did," Annis said. "I knew once she hit it, I was going to score."

The first of the seven goals scored in the second half came off a deep cross just four minutes after the start of half. The ball that Jazmyne Avant sent in found a scrum in front of the VU goal but it was Barney who got enough foot on the ball to put it over the line.

"Jazmyne Avant sent a great ball in," Barney said. "I hit it right to the keeper and she fumbled it a little so I got lucky on the poke in."

The Commodores cut the Gator lead in half shortly after Barney's goal as Candace West scored from inside the six-yard box in the 50th minute.

The lead was pushed back to two goals just over three minutes later when Erika Tymrak evaded her marker at the top of the box. .She used the space she created to take a 16-yard shot. The ball hit the right post and kicked in at 52:21. The goal gives Tymrak a career-high six goals for the season.

Vanderbilt's senior twin sisters, Molly and Megan Kinsella, connected to score the Commodores' second goal of the half. Megan Kinsella sent the ball to Molly Kinsella and her shot from 12 yards at the center of the goal scored at 74:28. The Commodores tied the match in the 83rd minute when Megan Kinsella's shot from 18 yards scored at the left post.

The earlier two matches of the SEC Tournament both went to overtime, but Annis scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the 85th minute to prevent a third consecutive overtime. She put the cross from Taylor Travis in from six yards. The assist extends Travis' team leading assist total to 11.

"I knew once Taylor got it out on the flank, she always finds me in the box. I needed to wait a bit and I told Mac (McKenzie Barney) to go near post so to disrupt the keeper and take her defender with her," Annis said. "When the ball came it, it was kind of like a sitter for me so I just needed to focus and finish the ball."

Barney added the insurance goal in just under two minutes later. The goal resulted off a situation that Barney had seen many times before in training sessions.

"Erika Tymrak sent an amazing ball in. We work on that in practice and she knows exactly where I am. She played that ball and I knew I had time because Tahnai (Annis) was on my left side and she's telling me `You've got time. Take a touch. Shoot it!' So she was my eyes, I guess," Barney said. "I shot it and found the back post.

The match was a hard-fought battle, which was expected by UF Head Coach Becky Burleigh.

"I knew that Vanderbilt was going to play like they had nothing to lose because they didn't . They needed this game to go on to the NCAA Tournament and they played hard. I give a lot of credit to Vanderbilt for the fight they showed tonight. Even when they were down 3-1, they never gave up. They played really hard.

"But I really like the relentlessness that our team showed in scoring those final two goals to go up 5-3," she continued. "That was big. I think a lot of teams would have folded under those circumstances but ours just seemed to get stronger."

The Gators now face Georgia in the SEC Tournament semifinal round on Friday, Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Georgia advanced with a 2-1 2OT win over Auburn to finish opening round action. The match be heard live on WRUF SportsRadio 850 or via simulcast on Gainesville/Ocala Cox Cable channel 946 with Adam Schick covering the action Friday. The match can also be heard live on