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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FOUR BITS: Young, Johnson, soccer, education

1 » Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young has been selected to be a member of the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team. Picked as one of 12 of the nation’s top players age 18 or younger, Young will be under the leadership of Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel while competing for the 2010 FIBA U18 Championship for Men from June 26-30 in San Antonio, TX.

2 » Also earning national recognition is Florida freshman pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson, who was invited to tryout for the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team from July 5-11 at the National Training Complex in Cary, NC. Johnson hopes to be one of 22 players selected for the final roster, which will compete until Aug. 7.

3 » Gators soccer released its 2010 schedule Wednesday, and the match-ups ahead for the women do not appear to be any easier than they have been in previous seasons. Florida is set to face nine teams who competed for the 2009 NCAA Championship – the ninth time in program history that their schedule is so top-heavy. The Gators will begin on Aug. 20 against Miami in Gainesville, FL, and will face notable teams of Florida State, Duke and North Carolina on the road before beginning their Southeastern Conference slate. In the middle of the season, Florida will play five consecutive road games; the team does not have a home stand longer than two games after Sept. 3.

4 » Seeing as most of OGGOA’s readers either attended the University of Florida, hoped to attend UF or have children at the school, it is important to note that the university was ranked No. 15 on Wednesday when U.S. News & World Report released their list of the top public institutions in the United States. No SEC schools finished ahead of Florida and, of course, they were tied with the University of Texas for the 15th slot. Other notable rankings include Georgia (21), Auburn (T39), Alabama (T43), Florida State (T48), Tennessee (T52), and LSU, Arkansas and Kentucky (all T64).

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TWO BITS: SEC football record, golf finishes 11th

1 » The Florida Gators have an opportunity to set yet another Southeastern Conference record on Sept. 4 when they open the 2010 football season against Miami (OH). Already tied with the Ole Miss Rebels for the most consecutive season openers without a loss (20), Florida can take sole possession of the record by winning their first game of the season at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The Gators already hold the record for most consecutive wins to start a season, seeing as the Rebels’ record (stretching from 1947-66) includes a 0-0 tie in 1963.

2 » Shooting a 293 (+5) in the final round of the 2010 NCAA Championship, Florida men’s golf finished tied for 11th in the tournament with a total team score of 869 (+5). At one point during the event, the Gators were just within a few strokes of the lead; by the end, they were 19 strokes back of the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ 850 (-14). The top eight finishers (also including Florida State, Georgia Tech, Washington, Oregon, Augusta State, Texas Tech and Stanford) will compete in the match play portion of the event next week. For the Gators, their season is over.

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Meyer consoles Boonstra after championship loss

Florida Gators senior tennis player Marrit Boonstra effectively lost the 2010 NCAA National Championship – that is, unfortunately, a fact. It is also the position she was put in by her teammates, who had tied their final match with the Stanford Cardinal 3-3 with Boonstra left as the only player still on the court.

Nevertheless, neither a single one of her teammates nor any Florida fans nor anyone in the athletic department blamed her for the loss – especially seeing as she took her opponent to the brink before falling 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 in a wild third set.

While Boonstra and her entire team were crushed, so was head football coach Urban Meyer, who was watching on television alongside his family back in Gainesville, FL. Rather than stand idly by as Boonstra wallowed in the outcome, Florida Today reports that he decided to do whatever he could to make her feel better.

“[Meyer called me and] told me he and his family had watched the match and they were all cheering and they were all so proud of me,” Boonstra told the paper. “That call made me feel a lot better. It helped me out a lot.”

That wasn’t all.

Meyer also went out of his way to send her a personal card, applauding her efforts and calling her “special.” “Every coach dreams of having a team of competitors,” Meyer wrote. “Unfortunately, there are not enough like you.”

Boonstra has since returned to her home country of The Netherlands and will do her best to compete internationally as a representative of Holland. She finished her Gators career with a fantastic 77-16 singles record, 60-9 dual match mark and 75-22 doubles record (24-4 this season with freshman Allie Will). Her championship match loss also ended a personal 17-match singles winning streak.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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SIX BITS: Golf in fifth, spread, softball, NFL, trivia

1 » After two days of action at the 2010 NCAA Championship in Ooltewah, TN, Florida Gators men’s golf is tied for fifth place with an even par score of 576. Florida is 14 shots off of the leader (Florida State, 562) and will compete in the final round on Thursday.

2 » CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson questions whether or not the Gators will remain successful running the spread offense without former quarterback Tim Tebow (now with the Denver Broncos) at the helm. “I’m still not sure any other spread will work in this conference,” he told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “They cannot have John Brantley getting hit 12-15 times per game. He’s too valuable. […] It was tough for [Tebow] to take the punishment of [the SEC]. This conference is more and more simulating the NFL, with sophisticated defense to put hits on people.”

Four more BITS including a softball preview, updates on Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes and a Florida Gators *trivia* question…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Golf in fifth, spread, softball, NFL, trivia

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