Ag Soccer Travels To Florida

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The third-seeded Texas A&M soccer team goes on the road for the third round of the NCAA Division I Championship this weekend. The Aggies face the second-seeded Florida Gators at noon on Sunday in Gainesville, Fla.

No. 13 A&M (17-4-1) hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, defeating Texas State, 5-2, and capturing a 3-1 win over No. 22 Washington to move on to the Sweet 16.

The Gators (19-3-1) are ranked eighth and advanced to the third round with a 2-1, come-from-behind victory over California and a 2-0 shutout of UCF.

The Aggies move on to the Sweet 16 for the ninth time in program history after securing an at-large bid and the highest seeding of any Big 12 school.

A&M is led by senior Laura Grace Robinson and sophomore Rachel Shipley with 19 points each. Robinson has a team-high seven goals, while Shipley has the most assists with nine. Sophomore Whitney Hooper and freshman Beth West each post 17 points with six and five goals, respectively. Freshmen Bri Young (6) and Jennifer Kmezich (5) and sophomore Alyssa Mautz (5) scored five goals or more.

Sophomore Kelly Dyer recorded six shutouts in goal this season and has a 0.95 goals-against average and a .802 save percentage.

The winner of Sunday’s match will advance to the Elite Eight to face the winner of No. 1-seed North Carolina and Illinois. The NCAA releases dates, times and sites for NCAA Quarterfinal matches the evening of Nov. 23.

Live stats are available for the game through and Florida will provide live internet audio and streaming video.

Fans wanting to attend the match can purchase tickets through the UAA Ticket Office at (352) 375-4683, ext. 6800. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under, students and senior citizens.

A&M starts up to six freshmen all of who are experiencing the postseason for the first time … NCAA Tournament jitters? Hardly. Freshmen Becca Herrera, Carly Wohlers and Rachael Balaguer each scored their first career goals in the first two rounds. Both Herrera and Balaguer’s goals were game winners. In addition, freshman Raven Tatum contributed her first career assist.

The Aggies are 20-13-0 in 14-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The run began in 1995, with the team advancing to the Sweet 16 eight previous times (1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) and as far as the Elite Eight on three occasions (2001, 2002, 2006).

A&M posts a 6-2-1 record on the road this season (including playing at a neutral site) and a 5-1-1 record as the visitor on the scoreboard. The team’s only blemish on its away record is a 1-0 loss to Kansas. A&M also played to a scoreless tie at Texas.

The Gators received one of the 34 at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament after earning their third consecutive Southeastern Conference team title with an 11-0 league record. Florida lost 3-0 to Georgia in the SEC Tournament semifinal.

UF made its 12th postseason appearance in the program’s 14-year history and goes to the Sweet 16 for the third-consecutive time and eighth overall (1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008).

Florida is led by senior Megan Kerns with 35 points on 13 goals and nine assists. Two other Gators total over 20 points – senior Ameera Abdullah (25 points) and freshman Tahnai Annis (22 points). Abdullah records eight goals and nine assists, while Annis has nine goals and four assists. Seven UF players have double digit points. Katie Fraine is the goalkeeper with a 6-2-1 record. She posts a 1.15 goals-against average and a .755 save percentage.

Head coach Becky Burleigh is in her 14th season at the helm of Florida soccer with a 330-86-27 record.

A&M leads the all-time series 3-1 versus Florida. The two teams met for the first time in 1995 (A&M, 3-2), again in 1996 (A&M, 2-1) and 1998 (UF, 1-0 OT) and lastly in 2000 (A&M, 3-1). The Aggies won both contests at James G. Pressley Stadium and won the last time the Gators came into the contest ranked eighth (1996). The two teams have never met in the postseason nor has Florida ever had a higher ranking than A&M when the two teams met.

Six teams from the Big 12 made the bracket including A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. Four teams advanced to the second round, but the Aggies are the only team remaining in the Sweet 16.

Six SEC programs advanced to postseason play, but after the opening weekend, Florida is similarly the only remaining squad in its league.

The Aggies have a very balanced attack with nine players totaling double-digit points and the same number tallying four goals or more.

Sophomore Alyssa Mautz scored four goals in the two games prior to the postseason and is in Chile for the 2008 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup as member of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team. The team competes Nov. 19 – Dec. 7.

A&M boasts one of the youngest starting lineups in the nation as up to six freshmen and three sophomores are amidst the 11 starters on the field. The Aggies have just two seniors on the squad.

A&M faced eight ranked opponents this season (North Carolina, Wake Forest, California, Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Colorado and Washington) and holds a 5-2-1 mark.

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