Florida women’s tennis shuts out UCLA 4-0, will face Stanford for 2011 NCAA Championship

Competing in the Final Four for the second-straight season and 21st time in the last 25 years, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (30-1) shut out the No. 6 UCLA Bruins (22-6) 4-0 to advance to the 2011 NCAA Championship taking place on Tuesday at Taube Tennis Stadium in Stanford, CA.

Florida got the evening started by winning two of three doubles contests and picking up the first point of the match. The No. 45 pairing of sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen won their set 8-6, and the duo of sophomore Caroline Hitimana and junior Joanna Mather closed out their opponents 8-4.

Embree/Oyen and Hitimana/Mather have been on fire for UF, also winning the doubles point for the Gators in their Elite Eight match-up on Sunday.

No. 17 Embree captured the first singles point with a dominant 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 42 Noelle Hickey and was followed by No. 54 Cercone, who outlasted No. 77 Courtney Dolehide 7-5, 6-3 to give Florida a 3-0 advantage. With the sun setting and the courts becoming much colder, No. 7 sophomore Allie Will – UF’s ace all season – clinched the win for the Gators with a 7-6, 6-2 triumph over No. 57 McCall Jones on court one.

Florida will face the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal (28-0) for the title for the second consecutive year and ninth time since 1988. The Cardinal defeated the Gators 4-3 for the 2010 NCAA Championship and is 6-2 all-time against UF when competing for the national title. Stanford is 16-11 all-time against Florida.

Tuesday’s championship game, where the Gators will look to break the Cardinal’s 184 consecutive match home winning streak, will air live on ESPNU at 7 p.m.

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Florida golf: men advance with NCAA regional win; women tie for 10th in NCAA Championship

By Nicole Boyett – OGGOA Special Contributor

No. 3 Florida Gators men’s golf earned a six-stroke victory in the 2011 NCAA Southeast Regional at Golden Ocala by finishing 18-under par. Florida’s win sends them to the 2011 NCAA Championship in Stillwater, OK beginning May 31.

Senior Andres Echavarria led the Gators with three rounds under par, finishing 9-under and in fourth place to complete his fourth top-five performance the season.

Florida had to overcome a four-shot deficit Saturday after a 13-under performance from Augusta State on Friday earned them the overall lead. The Gators covered more than four shots, posting an 11-under total Saturday while Augusta State fell flat to finish 1-under for the day. Senior Bank Vongvanij tied for sixth place at 7-under with sophomore Phillip Choi not far behind (-4, T-12). Sophomore Tommy Mou completed Florida’s lineup at +2.

The top five finishers in each of the six regionals advance to the championship. Moving on from the Southeast Regional were Florida (-18), Augusta State (-12), Kennesaw State (-11), North Carolina State (-9) and Arkansas (-8). Four other Southeastern Conference teams have also advanced: Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee.

The No. 24 women’s golf team finished 44-over par and tied for 10th with Vanderbilt at the 2011 NCAA Championship at Traditions Club in Bryan, TX. After a rain delay and eventual postponement due to darkness on Friday, golfers had to finish their third round before beginning the fourth and final round Saturday.

Junior Andrea Watts was the top-performing Gator, finishing tied for 15th at +5. After two rounds, sophomore Mia Piccio was 2-under par. By carding two 4-over rounds, Piccio finished T-19 at 6-over. Junior Evan Jensen totaled 13-over, and sophomore Isabelle Lendl struggled with her swing changes and finished a rough 29-over. Senior Jessica Yadloczky completed her final tournament in the orange and blue at +28.

UCLA (+21) wound up capturing the NCAA Championship in women’s golf. Defending champion Purdue (+25) finished in second place followed by LSU (+29), Virginia (+34) and top-ranked Southern California (+38).

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FOUR BITS: tennis wins SEC, gym, Davis, Hill

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (22-1, 11-0 SEC) shutout the South Carolina Gamecocks (12-9, 4-7 SEC) 7-0 on Saturday to capture the outright 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship for the regular season at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The victory not only won Florida the SEC title and a No. 1 seed (including a bye) in the upcoming 2011 SEC Tournament, it was also the team’s 102nd consecutive regular season victory and 93rd-straight at home. The No. 8 doubles team of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Alex Cercone took down their No. 32-ranked opponents 8-4. No. 7 Will and No. 51 Cercone each won their singles matches, as did No. 20 sophomore Lauren Embree, No. 37 junior Joanna Mather, No. 49 freshman Olivia Janowicz and No. 104 freshman Sofie Oyen. The No. 43 duo of Embree and Oyen also won their doubles match earlier in the day.

2 » No. 5 Gators gymnastics was not as successful over the weekend, failing to advance to the 2011 NCAA Super Six team final by finishing fourth in Session II of the 2011 NCAA Championships semifinals. Florida finished with 196.125 points behind Alabama (197.05), Nebraska (196.85) and Utah (196.20). Fortunately for the Gators, three of the ladies advanced to the NCAA individual event finals on Sunday. Freshman Alaina Johnson will compete in vault, uneven bars and floor exercise; sophomore Marissa King will try her hand at vault and floor exercise; and senior Maranda Smith will participate in the floor exercise. All three were named to the All-American First Team.

3 » Florida 2012 running back commitment Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) won a Most Valuable Player award for his group at the Nike Football Training Camp in Athens, GA on Friday. “Mike did some incredible things,” Jake Campbell, running backs coach at the camp, told ESPN. “He has great lateral movement and change of direction. He’s terrific in the open field. He’s a true running back where things come so natural to him. He’s versatile and has soft hands. He’s also a strong ball carrier who really seems to understand the position.”

4 » Gators safety Will Hill, waiting to find out who will take a chance on him in the 2011 NFL Draft, participated in a local prospect day for the New York Giants on Thursday. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Mike Garafolo says Hill “has the Giants intrigued” to the point that they have “look[ed] into the personal side of things” regarding his character.

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Shyatt agrees to become Wyoming head coach

Returning to a team he led for one season over a decade ago, Florida Gators assistant basketball coach Larry Shyatt has agreed to become the new head coach of the Wyoming Cowboys. Florida head coach Billy Donovan‘s longest tenured assistant, Shyatt met with Wyoming officials in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday and hammered out a deal Thursday to pull him away from the university after a successful seven-year run.

“I’ve spent seven great years at the University of Florida helping to build a championship-caliber program, and this is one of the only places I would have considered leaving for,” Shyatt said in a Wyoming press release. “I’m excited about the commitment of the administration, and the passionate fan base I remember at Wyoming, and I can’t wait to meet, work with and develop a great relationship with the current team.”

Serving as an assistant across the country for 24 seasons, Shyatt accepted the head coaching gig with Wyoming in 1997 but only stuck around for a year. Clemson, where he was an assistant from 1994-97, nabbed him with a more lucrative contract and the allure of a higher-echelon program in a top-tier conference.

The Cowboys sued Shyatt for breaching his five-year contract, but the parties settled out of court when he agreed to pay back $286,000. Compiling a 70-84 record as a head coach, Shyatt was fired in 2003 and picked up by Donovan in 2004.

After Shyatt joined the team as an assistant, the Gators captured three Southeastern Conference Tournament Championships (2005-07) and back-to-back NCAA National Championships (2006-07). His praiseworthy recruiting efforts and outstanding defensive coaching made him a prominent reason for the team’s overall success.

“For me personally there’s both an excitement and sadness,” Donovan said in a statement. “Larry is one of my closest friends and his impact here at Florida over the last seven years has been immeasurable.”

Taking the job with the Cowboys, Shyatt will have the opportunity to work with his son, North Florida assistant coach Jeremy Shyatt, if he chooses to bring him along for the ride. Another coach Shyatt could add is UCLA’s Scott Duncan, who worked under him as an assistant previously at both Wyoming and Clemson.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Shyatt has signed a five-year contract worth upwards of $700,000 per season plus incentives.

Check out this collection of articles from the Star-Tribune over a decade ago about Shyatt during his first stint with the Cowboys.

In related news… Florida assistant Richard Pitino, thought to be a front-runner for the Florida Gulf Coast head coaching job, was passed over when the university instead decided to hire Florida State assistant Andy Enfield on Wednesday. Pitino is still being considered for other head coaching gigs across the country.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

10 » FLORIDA WINS INAUGURAL LACROSSE GAME (2/20/10)
When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

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Murphy, Wise, volleyball honored with SEC awards

Finishing the season with a perfect 20-0 record in the Southeastern Conference and a No. 1 seed in the 2010 NCAA Championship Tournament, No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball (27-1) was honored by the SEC on Monday with a number of awards.

Florida junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was named the 2010 SEC Player of the Year, head coach Mary Wise was named 2010 SEC Coach of the Year and six Gators earned All-SEC recognition including three to the First Team.

Joining Murphy on the First Team were seniors middle back Lauren Bledsoe and outside hitter Callie Rivers. Junior MB Cassandra Anderson and junior OH Kristy Jackel were named to the Second Team, while freshman setter Chanel Brown earned All-SEC Freshman Team recognition.

Florida will host the first two rounds of the 2010 NCAA Championship at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Opening round action for the Gators begins on Friday when they face South Carolina State at 7:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Southeastern Conference

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TWO BITS: Volleyball earns No. 1 NCAA seed

1 » No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball earned the program’s first-ever No. 1 national seed on Sunday when the NCAA officially announced the 64-team bracket for the 2010 NCAA Volleyball Championship. One of six Southeastern Conference schools to qualify for the tournament, Florida will take its 22-match winning streak into the event. The Gators finished the regular season a perfect 20-0 in SEC competition, the first team to do so since the schedule was adjusted in 2006. Florida (27-1) will face South Carolina State (17-22) to start off their tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. as the first and second rounds will be hosted from Dec. 3-4 in Gainesville, FL. Also in UF’s region are Florida State (21-10) and Georgia Southern (27-8). Though being a No. 1 seed is new for the Gators, hosting NCAA action is not; Florida has started the NCAA Tournament at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center 19 times in the last 20 seasons.

The Gators completed their perfect SEC slate on Friday by defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-12) on the road at the Volleyball Competition Facility in Columbia, SC. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers notched a team-high nine kills while junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy totaled seven kills, 12 assists, four digs, four service aces and a season-high five blocks.

2 » Florida women’s basketball was also busy over the weekend; the ladies were victorious in back-to-back contests to win the 2010 Dead River Company Classic in Orno, ME. The Gators (5-1) defeated the South Alabama Jaguars (3-3) 61-51 on Friday and ended the short tournament with a 52-43 win over the Navy Midshipmen (4-2) on Saturday. Florida junior center Azania Stewart was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after totaling 24 rebounds in two games. UF redshirt junior guard Jordan Jones was placed on the All-Tournament Team due to her stellar performance including 18 points.

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Florida soccer tops USC for SEC Championship

Defeating the No. 20 South Carolina Gamecocks (14-5-4, 8-3-1 SEC) one week ago for the Southeastern Conference regular season title, the No. 7 Florida Gators soccer team (18-2-2, 10-1-1 SEC) took them down once again on Sunday, this time by a score of 1-0 to capture the 2010 SEC Championship in the conclusion of the SEC Tournament at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, AL.

With the win, Florida earned an automatic berth to compete for the 2010 NCAA Championship later this week. The Gators lead all league teams with nine SEC Tournament titles; Saturday’s win marked their first since 2007.

Florida out-shot South Carolina 16-11, with their sole score coming via an own goal from the Gamecocks at 69′. UF crossed the ball into the penalty area, but a deflection off a defender from USC was sent into the net for the goal.

The Gators now await seeding in the NCAA Tournament; their spot will be officially announced on Monday, Nov. 8 at 4:30 p.m. live on ESPNU. First-round action in the event is set to begin on Friday, Nov. 12.

Photo Credit: Southeastern Conference

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