Retiring U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach set to play final international match Wednesday

The legendary and unforgettable international career of former Florida Gators soccer star Abby Wambach officially ends Wednesday when Wambach suits up for the final time with the U.S. Women’s National Team to compete against China in a friendly hosted in New Orleans (8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1).

The all-time international goal-scoring leader, who announced her pending retirement on Oct. 27, called her career an “amazing, wonderful ride.”

Continue Reading » Retiring U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach set to play final international match Wednesday

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USA wins 2015 Women’s World Cup 5-2 over Japan: Abby Wambach inspires, Gators react

Abby Wambach did not have much say on the field over the United States‘ victory on Sunday, but she was undoubtedly the team’s emotional leader throughout the entire 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Wambach saw the final World Cup action of her career, playing in her 25th career match as a substitute at 79′ on Sunday with the Americans already leading the Japanese 5-2 in the event. The U.S. held on for the victory, winning its first World Cup since 1999 (third ever, the most of any nation) and avenging a penalty kick loss to Japan four years ago.

For Wambach, who only scored one goal in this year’s World Cup, the victory was just as sweet as if she had started every match during the month-long event. Instead, she watched on as Carli Lloyd – the heir apparent team captain – registered a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of competition, scoring at 3′, 5′ and again at 16′ from midfield. Between Lloyd’s three goals was one by Lauren Holliday at 14′, and Tobin Health responded to two Japanese goals with an insurance strike at 54′ for the Americans.

Lloyd gave her captain armband to Wambach when she entered out of respect.

Continue Reading » USA wins 2015 Women’s World Cup 5-2 over Japan: Abby Wambach inspires, Gators react

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Hoping to lead United States to glory, inspired Abby Wambach goes after elusive World Cup

Will the fourth time be a charm? Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach certainly hopes so as she leads the U.S. Women’s National Team into its first game of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Wambach, the all-time international goal scorer (male or female) with 182 goals in 242 appearances, is in her 15th year as a national team member and will start her fourth World Cup with the Americans on Monday at 7:30 p.m. as the United States takes on Australia in the start of group stage competition.

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Former Gators jumper Omar Craddock arrested in Gainesville for felony battery

Former Florida Gators track and field star Omar Craddock, a three-time NCAA national champion in the triple jump, was arrested Sunday morning and charged with both a third-degree felony for assault and first-degree misdemeanor for resisting arrest.

Craddock allegedly punched a bouncer several times after being denied entry into a Gainesville club early Sunday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He was booked into Alachua County jail and held on $17,500 bond.

In Gainesville to participate in the annual Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track, Craddock came away with a triple jump crown.

He is expected to compete in the event during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in hopes to representing his country in the 2016 Rio Olympics next summer after failing to do so in 2012. Craddock also won the United States’ triple jump title in 2013.

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FOUR BITS: Bonner, Tebow, Noah, Wambach

1 » During an NBA game on Friday, former Florida Gators forward Matt Bonner received an uppercut to the groin courtesy of Boston’s Marcus Smart, who was ejected from the game and subsequently suspended one game by the league. Smart claimed it was unintentional and “just a freak accident,” noting that Bonner likely would’ve gone after him had he thought it to be intentional. Bonner, a 10-year veteran who is averaging 4.0 points and 1.6 boards for the San Antonio Spurs, has yet to discuss the incident.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Bonner, Tebow, Noah, Wambach

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Friday Final: Gators soccer star Heather Mitts returns to Gainesville with SEC Network

Former Florida Gators soccer star Heather Mitts, a three-time Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. Women’s National Team and 2013 inductee into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame, recently traded in her cleats for a microphone.

A major part of the Gators’ 1998 NCAA Championship-winning soccer team, Mitts went on to have a 12-year professional career before officially retiring in March 2013. She has since decided to embark on a career in sports broadcasting, which she actually began years ago as a part-time soccer analyst for FOX Sports and ESPN.

Now a sideline reporter (football) and analyst (soccer) for the SEC Network, Mitts will be returning to Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday as part of the broadcast team that will cover Florida’s football game against Eastern Michigan, the first-ever Gators contest that will be aired live on the network. sat down with Mitts for 20 minutes on Thursday. She spoke at length about playing most of her professional career with a Florida teammate and close friend in Abby Wambach, moving into a broadcasting role, her love for the Gators and her admiration for UF head coach Becky Burleigh.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: How tough of a decision was it for you to ultimately retire from the game you love and hang up your cleats for good?
HEATHER MITTS: “You know what? It wasn’t actually that hard because I just felt like I had a lot of injuries towards the end of my career and I was able to do something that I loved for, gosh, as any years as it was. Since college, I literally thought I was going to play one or two years post-college, and I was able to go to three Olympics and one World Cup. To be able to kind of retire on a high note as well, with the Gold medal, being 35 years old with all the injuries that I had, it was just kind of like the right time for me to walk away. I felt really content with my decision.”

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Gators soccer star Heather Mitts returns to Gainesville with SEC Network

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4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

1 » During an interview with the Boomer and Carton Show on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson was asked about former teammate Aaron Hernandez and whether he ever had an inkling that the former tight end was be capable of going off the rails. “You know, there was definitely some tendencies – I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t – but it was a huge surprise,” he said. “It really shocked me. Because this is a guy I saw get into a fight in practice and [he was] crying 15 minutes later because he had just hurt his teammate. So this was a guy who was extremely sensitive, he was extremely vulnerable, but the thing is, he was who he hung out with. So if he was hanging out with somebody he was very influenced.

Nelson corroborated what has been reported elsewhere, that members of the Florida Gators were worried about Hernandez going home to Connecticut and hanging out with his old crowd. He also noted that head coach Urban Meyer purposely put Hernandez around himself and Tim Tebow to help improve his character. “You saw some issues with him in college, but they were minor – some drug stuff and that was about it – but nothing to this extreme,” Nelson added. “So he started to hang out with the wrong crowd, get a lot of fame, a lot of money, start to get that ‘I can do whatever I want’ invincible kind of mentality a lot of NFL guys get. And I think you saw him make a really bad mistake.”

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Sturgis, World Cup, U.S. Open

1 » Speaking at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp in Detroit, Michigan over the weekend, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer discussed lessons he learned from the military about teamwork and how it is so much more important to be a team than in individual in the sport of football. In doing so, he praised the 2008 national title-winning Florida Gators, stating for the second time in as many years that he thinks that group was the best team in college football history. “I’ve been a part of a couple great teams. I think the best team that’s ever played the game [was] in ’08. That was animal instincts [that] took over on the field; they protected each other,” he told the group. “Have you ever tried to reason with a wild animal? You never reason with a wild animal; they protect each other. Have you ever tried to negotiate, evaluate, take a play off? If you’re a wild animal, that doesn’t happen.” (Hat tip: Yahoo! Sports)

2 » Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis threw out the first pitch at Saturday’s home game for the Miami Marlins. Sturgis will enter his second NFL season in 2014 looking to hold down his starting job with the Dolphins. Though he flashed his signature strong leg and dead-on accuracy at times in 2013, Sturgis did go through his share of struggles, finishing 26/34 (.765) with seven field goals of 50+ yards.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Meyer, Sturgis, World Cup, U.S. Open

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