Best Gator Teams of the Decade - Part II

Here is the second installment of the best Gator teams of the decade that just concluded. First, a reminder of the teams selected in part one.

#15 2009 Men's Outdoor Track and Field
#14 2008 Women's Softball
#13 2001 Football

Now we move on two part two and the teams we ranked No. 10-12. This group showcases the depth of excellence of the Gator sports program. Then again, that's what this entire series does.

#12 2001 Women's Soccer ---- Florida won the NCAA Title in 1998 and three years later this group got the Gators back to the College Cup which is the soccer equivalent of the Final Four. It didn't start out as a special season with the Gators going 3-2-1 in its first six matches, but Becky Burleigh got her team on a roll with seven straight wins. An overtime loss at Tennessee was followed by four more wins to wrap up the SEC Title. Florida posted three more wins to claim the SEC Tournament title. The Gators added four more NCAA Tournament wins, capped by a double overtime 1-0 win over UCLA on a goal my Monica Hoyles to earn that trip to the College Cup. There the Gators fell to Santa Clara 3-2 in overtime. The 2001 Gators out scored opponents 78-20 for the season and posted 12 shutouts. Their 21 wins is the third best total in school history. Abby Wambach led the team with a remarkable 31 goals, meaning the future Olympian outscored the Gators' opponents for the season. Jordan Kellgren tied the school record posting seven solo shutouts. Andi Sellers and Keisha Bell joined Wombach as first team All-SEC selections.

#11 2005 Baseball ---- This was sort of a difficult team to place because it did not have a dominating season, but boy did it finish well. The season started out well for Coach Pat McMahon's team which won 16 of its first 20 games and extended that to 27-8 (10-4 SEC) by mid-April. Florida seemingly saw its championship hopes dashed with a 7-10 slump that included a 4-5 SEC stretch. However they won six of the last seven SEC contests to finish the season 38-18, 20-10 in the SEC, which was good enough for Florida's 10th SEC crown. Florida won twice and lost twice in the SEC Tournament and was chosen to host the NCAA Regional and if they advanced, the Super Regional, too. Florida ripped through the Regional in three games and dispatched with Florida State 8-1, 8-5 to advance to the College World Series. The Gators then beat Arizona State 6-3 in its bracket final to face Texas in the finals. The longhorns beat the Gators 4-2 and 6-2 to end the Gators' dream of winning it all. Matt LaPorta led the Gator attack with a school record 26 home runs and drove in 79, one shy of matching the school mark in that category. Jeff Corsaletti led the team with a .358 average and added 10 HR, while Adam Davis hit 12 HR and stole 24 bases. On the mound what set the Gators apart was the bullpen tandem of Darren O'Day (8-3, 2.87, 7 saves) and Conner Falkenbach (3-3, 3.15, 9 saves) who combined to pitch 160 innings. Alan Horne (10-2, 4.05) was the top winner.

#10 2002 Women's Volleyball ---- Mary Wise's incredible run of success at Florida makes it hard to rank teams, but you could argue that the two best teams in school history came in back-to-back seasons starting with this one. Florida as usual romped through the regular season, losing only to top ranked Southern Cal until a late November stumble against No. 8 Northern Iowa. Florida went 16-0 in the SEC and added three more wins to claim the SEC Tournament Title as well. Florida hosted its first four NCAA matches and was never extended to five games in advancing to the Final Four. Unfortunately those Trojans were again waiting for the Gators in the NCAA Semi-Finals. Florida surprised the Women of Troy in the first game, but USC took the next three for the win. Florida was led by sensational outside hitter Aury Cruz who averaged 4.62 kills and 3.11 digs per game and was named SEC Player of the Year for the second time. Cruz was also a first team All-American with middle blocker Benavia Jenkins on the second team and Nicole McCray made the third team.

We've saluted six of the best Gator teams of the last decade leaving nine more to recognize. Coming up next the best teams in school history in two sports and we hit the hardwood as well.


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