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Florida wins SEC Soccer Tournament

2431 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: SEC

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -- Top-seeded Florida edged two-time defending champion Texas A&M 2-1 to win the 2015 SEC Soccer Tournament. The victory marks the 11th tournament crown for the Gators (most in the SEC) and first since 2012.

All three goals came in the first half of the match. No. 6 seed Texas A&M struck first in the 23rd minute when sophomore forward Haley Pounds knocked in her 12th goal of the season off a pass from Emily Bates.

The Gators responded six minutes later by converting on a corner kick to even the score. The 15-yard volley was the 11th goal of the season for Florida junior forward Brooke Sharp.

Florida's go-ahead goal came in the 43rd minute on a free kick by senior Christen Westphal. The Gators scored their two goals on just three first-half shots.

"We started a little slow, but the team kept trusting in what we were doing, kept working really hard and here we are," said Florida head coach Becky Burleigh. "This team has shown so much resilience throughout the year. Even though we went down 1-0 and weren't playing that well at the beginning, it was a testament to this group to bounce back again."

Texas A&M outshot Florida 10-7 in the match but the Aggies' tournament five-game shutout streak came to an end. This was the first tournament game since the 2013 title match that Texas A&M gave up a goal.

"That's a tough result for us, but you have to give a lot of credit to Florida," said Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri. "They played well, and despite us creating a number of pretty good scoring chances, we didn't hit the target and they were super in finishing their set pieces. I'm proud of the fight in our young team. This will be a hard lesson to learn, but we will improve from it."

This match evened the Florida-Texas A&M all-time series at 6-6. Ten of the 12 all-time meetings between these programs have been decided by a single goal. Florida improved to 17-3-1 for the season while Texas A&M fell to 15-6-1.

The Gators also claimed the program's 14th SEC regular-season title this year. This is the sixth time Florida has swept the SEC soccer titles since the league began awarding a regular-season title in 2000.

"It definitely feels awesome because every single member of our team played a huge role in why we are here," said Tournament MVP Christen Westphal. "We talked about it earlier how no one expected us to win the regular season and no one expected us to win the tournament as well. It feels great to accomplish both things. There are still things left we want to accomplish."

The NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament bracket will be released Monday, Nov. 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.

All-Tournament Team

Kala Faulkner, Auburn
Brooke Ramsier, Auburn
Alex Arlitt, LSU
Natalia Gomez Junco, LSU
Emily Bates, Texas A&M
Mikaela Harvey, Texas A&M
Ally Watt, Texas A&M
Savannah Jordan, Florida
Claire Falknor, Florida
Christen Westphal, Florida
Meggie Dougherty Howard, Florida

Tournament MVP

Christen Westphal, Florida