Soccer Claims Gators' First SEC Title of 2008

While most Gator fans' minds are focused on Saturday's homecoming game with Kentucky and the showdown with Georgia that follows, the first SEC Title of the school year has already been won for the University of Florida. The Gator soccer team clinched at least a share of the conference crown Thursday night with a 3-0 win over Arkansas.

That became an outright SEC Title an hour later when second place LSU tied with South Carolina.

This is the ninth SEC Title for Coach Becky Burleigh and has to be one of the most satisfying. Florida has swept through nine SEC games without a loss despite losing the top three scorers from last year. Stacy Bishop, Keleigh Hudson and Ashley Harris combined for 27 of Florida's 48 goals last season, but the Gators haven't missed a beat. Florida will take an impressive 14-2-1 record into the final two games of the regular season and looks to be in excellent position to host NCAA Tournament action after the SEC Tournament November 5-9.

Burleigh's crew has succeeded with an interesting mix of youth and experience. Two seniors – Megan Kearns (10/7) and Ameera Abdullah (5/9) -- have combined for 15 goals and 16 assists. They've been supported by a pair of freshmen – Tahnai Annis (8/4) and Lindsay Thompson (6/3) who have been almost as productive. That quartet has combined for 29 of the Gators' 42 goals this season.

Burleigh is the only coach Florida Soccer has ever had. In her 14 seasons at the helm she has guided her teams to 253 wins including a 1-0- win over North Carolina in the 1998 NCAA Championship Game. The Gators have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 each of the last two seasons. It appears this team may just be capable of making a deeper run come tournament time.


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