There has been plenty of talk and anticipation in regards to Florida’s first football practice of the Fall. First fans wanted to know when, then where, then of course, is it going to be opened or closed? Well, now that all of those questions have been answered whether you like the answers you not, there is another type of football if you will, already practicing and getting ready for their season opener.
The five-time defending Southeastern Conference champion Gator soccer team kicked off the 2011-12 University of Florida athletic year with their first training session Wednesday afternoon at Florida’s Lacrosse/Soccer Complex.
Soccer was the first of nine Gator teams to claim conference titles in 2010-11, taking its 11th overall crown with a 9-1-1 league record. The 2010 Gators posted a 19-2-3 overall record and returns eight starters from last season’s team which reached the NCAA Second Round. Florida finished the season ranked No. 12 in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll.
A roster of 31 took to the practice field Wednesday afternoon. The 2011 Gators will be fairly even between upper and lower classmen, as 17 are either freshmen or sophomores and 14 are junior or seniors. Four of Florida’s 2010 NSCAA All-South Region and All-SEC selections return in 2011 – midfielders Tahnai Annis, Taylor Travis and Erika Tymrak plus defender Kathryn Williamson. Both Annis and Williamson were named NSCAA All-Americans and Williamson picked up the SEC Defensive Player of the Year honor. The top five Gator goal scorers and point leaders from the 2010 campaign are back this season as well.
Florida plays host to an Orange & Blue match on Friday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. Soccer will again be the first Florida team to compete this season, as the Gators open the 2011 season with four consecutive road matches. The season begins at Miami on Aug. 19 and then at Florida International on Aug. 21. The second weekend sends the Gators to Knoxville, Tenn., to face a pair of teams who earned 2010 NCAA Championship berths. Florida faces Texas A&M on Aug. 26 and then meets UCLA on Aug. 28.
The home season begins Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. versus Texas Tech.