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Florida Soccer Plays as the Fourth Seed in the SEC Tournament

The SEC Tournament started this week for the top 10 soccer teams in the conference in Orange Beach, Alabama. Florida (13-4, 8-3 SEC) is the fourth seed in the tournament and they will face the number five seed Missouri (11-6-1, 6-4-1 SEC) on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals.

Familiar Foes

This match up for Florida may seem like déjà vu because they finished the regular season against the Tigers just last week. Not even a week has passed since the Gators beat Missouri at their field 1-0. Freshman Julia Lester was the difference maker in the game, scoring the lone goal with 10 minutes left in the first half. In the match, Missouri high pressed the Gators, which made them seem uncomfortable at times, but they were able to adjust throughout. Florida goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese had four saves in the game and recorded her seventh shutout of the season. Gator coach Becky Burleigh is excited to play Missouri again because of the challenge they offer to Florida.

Missouri is led by a young attack that leads the SEC in corners. Their style of aggressive play allows them to take advantage of the mistakes their opponents make throughout a match. Their leading scorer is freshman Sara Luebbert with 10 goals on the season. She was named the SEC Freshman of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season.

Confident Gators

Florida had its share of individual SEC awards this season. Three Gators were named to the First Team All-SEC: seniors Savannah Jordan and Meggie Dougherty Howard and redshirt junior Gabby Seiler. Jordan has won the honor each of her four years with Florida. Redshirt junior Kristen Cardano was named to the second team and Julia Lester earned a spot on the All-Freshman team. Burleigh believes these awards are a reflection of how good this year’s squad is.

The Gators feel like they are prepared to go into the postseason. Although they didn’t meet all the goals they set out to reach for the regular season (such as winning the SEC regular season title), they have played the toughest schedule in the SEC and they believe that will help them as they play only the best moving forward. Seiler said that Florida has done well as of late, but they have not even reached their potential.

Tournament So Far

The first round of the SEC Tournament took place on Monday. Tennessee and Texas A&M were the two teams able to move on into the quarterfinals. Ole Miss became the first team ousted in a 2-0 loss to the Volunteers and Alabama followed the Rebels after a double overtime loss to the Aggies. South Carolina is the number one seed of the tournament after not dropping a single game all season and are the clear favorites to win the tournament.

Looking Ahead

Wednesday will include four quarterfinal matches. Starting at 1 p.m. Tennessee will face Auburn, then Vanderbilt will take on Arkansas and Texas A&M will play South Carolina. The Gators will face Missouri in the final match of the night at 8:30 p.m. All the games will air on the SEC Network. The winners will move on to the semifinals which will be played on Friday.

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