#7 Florida Women's Soccer 2012 Preview

Florida Gators

Overall Rank: #7
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
Florida Women's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Florida Team Page


By Florida standards the 2011 campaign was a little disappointing. The Gators earned a two seed in the NCAA Tournament, but fell at home in the second round to a surging UCF team that went on to upset North Carolina as well. However, on paper, that 2011 season was a little bit of a rebuilding year for Coach Becky Burleigh and company. But there really is no such thing as rebuilding in Gainesville; there is just reloading. And if it took the 2011 season to reload, consider the job done.

2011 Record: 17-8-0, 7-4-0
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Becky Burleigh

The Florida roster is loaded with experienced seniors and sophomores who spent last season adjusting to life in the SEC. Erika Tymrak is one of those senior leaders who netted a dozen goals last season and dished out eight assists. Tymrak is one of most dangerous midfielders in the nation and should be in for a huge senior season. Annie Speese, Holly King and Havana Solaun are also superb midfielders. Speese is one of those sophomores who should be much improved with a year of experience under her belt. However, Speese was pretty impressive as a freshman, scoring eight goals and leading the team with nine assists. King is not a goal scorer, but she is a rock in the midfield and a great senior leader. Solaun spent nearly all of her freshman season coming in off of the bench, but she totaled six goals and six assists in just 989 minutes of play. If she can keep up that production while playing more minutes, Florida will not miss the goal scoring of Tahnai Annis much at all. Senior forward McKenzie Barney may be asked to take a few more shots as well, but Coach Burleigh also has junior Taylor Travis and sophomore Jillian Graff at her disposal. Those two spent last season as reserves, but proved to be capable goal scorers when given the opportunity. A large group of talented newcomers, led by striker Claire Falknor, will battle for playing time as well.

The inexperience on defense proved to be the undoing of Florida in 2011. That should not be a problem anymore. Jazmyne Avant will be missed, but the defense is strong with senior Kathryn Williamson leading the way. Jo Dragotta is also a returning senior starter and Maggie Rodgers and Annie Bobbitt have gained some valuable experience. Keeper Taylor Burke was thrown into the fire as a freshman. She certainly hit some rough patches during the 2011 season and the Gators weakness in the back was painfully obvious during their upset loss against UCF. Even though she allowed 1.08 goals per game, that was good enough to rank fourth in the conference. And Burke is a great athlete with great size. And both of those claims are vastly understated. She is 6-1 and won the high jump title at the 2012 USA Junior Championships. There is not an inch of the goal that she cannot cover. A year of experience should go a long, long way in her development.

Final Projection:
If Burke even partially lives up to her vast potential between the posts, Florida will be a major contender in the SEC. The offensive firepower is there and this is a team that can help out the defense a lot, as they did in 2011. But in order to find themselves atop the SEC and back in the College Cup, the defense has to come a little bit closer to matching the talent on offense.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Erika Tymrak, Senior, M/F, 12
Assists: Annie Speese, Sophomore, M, 9
Shots: Erika Tymrak, Senior, M/F, 72
Saves: Taylor Burke, Sophomore, GK, 34

Madness 2012 Women’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#76 Claire Falknor
#106 Christen Westphal