Florida Soccer Heads to NCAA's
Florida head coach Becky Burleigh
Florida head coach Becky Burleigh
Posted Nov 7, 2011

After falling 3-2 to Auburn in the finals of the SEC Championship Sunday, Becky Burleigh and her team didn’t know if their season was over. The winner of the SEC Championship gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and for the first time, it went to a number 7 seed – and a team Florida had already beaten this season.

Fortunately for Florida, the Gators didn’t have to suffer in limbo too long.

The NCAA tournament bracket was released Monday afternoon, and Florida has a number 2 seed. Burleigh knows her players need to learn from their mistakes against Auburn.

“Ultimately, one of the reasons we lost that game is because we didn’t bring the same physical presence that we had [in the first two rounds of the tournament], so that’s something that we’ll focus on in practice and get ourselves mentally ready,” Burleigh said.

The Gators will take on Florida Gulf Coast University, a team they already shutout this season 5-0, in the first round of the tournament Friday.

“That gives us a little bit of time to have some recovery as well as getting something productive done,” Burleigh said. “If we push the pace and go north south a little bit quicker, I think we can catch teams in transition a bit more.”

The Gators may be a little tired after a long season, but Burleigh says preparing for a non-conference match should give the team a mental lift.

“It’s going to be nice to get out of the SEC in terms of not playing somebody who knows us so well. That whole second half of the season where everybody knows every single player on every team is a little bit of a grind, so I think they’ll be excited to have even another fresh start,” Burleigh said.

“Having to face a totally new challenge now, with a different look, a different opponent, I think that’s going to help us psychologically.”

Florida welcomes FGCU to James G. Pressley Stadium 7p.m. Friday.

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