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Gators exit Gainesville in bid to end jinx
November 22nd, 2013 4:28AM

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[WOMEN'S PREVIEW: Duke-Florida] SEC runner-up Florida is a No. 2 regional seed with arguably the nation's top freshman in Savannah Jordan, but the Gators passed on hosting this weekend. Having exited at home the last three years, Coach Becky Burleigh decided it was time to mix things up. Florida will play at Duke, which presents a huge challenge despite its 8-8-5 record. The Blue Devils, who played one of the toughest schedules in the country, have loads of NCAA Tournament experience.

Duke (8-8-5) vs. Florida (18-4-1)
Venue: Koskinen Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 pm ET
Online: GoDuke.Com
Radio: Gator Zone

STORY LINES:
-- Injuries hurt Duke this season, but it will have the edge in experience. Four starters -- Kaitlyn Kerr, Laura Weinberg, Kim DeCesare and Natasha Anasi -- played when the Blue Devils won in a shootout at Florida in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, and Duke made the semifinals and quarterfinals the last two seasons. Kerr, Weinberg and DeCesare have 18 NCAA Tournament goals between them.

-- Anasi and Lizzy Raben, a freshman, will be key to shutting down Jordan, whose 22 goals are better than even Abby Wambach had in her storied career at Florida. The Gators lead the series with a 6-3-2 record and have not lost outright to the Blue Devils since a 2-1 overtime overtime in Gainesville in the 2002 campaign.

NUMBER GAME: 8

All eight Duke losses were to teams still in the NCAA Tournament -- six to teams seeded No. 1 or No. 2.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Natasha Anasi (Duke). One of the top defenders to play in the ACC in recent years. A first-team Soccer America MVP as a sophomore and a two-time All-American for the Blue Devils. Has started a team-best 70 straight games.

Kelly Cobb (Duke). Considered best player to ever come out of Alaska. A Soccer America All-Freshman selection as a freshman but limited to two goals as a sophomore with an injured ankle. Has come back to score seven goals this season, including a goal against Colorado College in first round.

Savannah Jordan (Florida). One of the top candidates for Freshman of the Year honors. Was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, the first freshman so honored, with 22 goals. Attended the U.S. U-18 national team camp in October.

Christen Westphal (Florida).
Third Gator to earn first-team All-SEC honors. Started every match at center back. Scored on a 40-yard free kick against Georgia.

DUKE:
Goalkeeper
17 Meghan Thomas JR Castle Rock, Colo.
Defenders
4 Natasha Anasi SR Arlington, Texas
6 Lizzy Raben FR Greenwood Village, Colo.
31 Christina Gibbons FR Raleigh, N.C.
Midfielders
5 Kaitlyn Kerr SR Bensalem, Pa.
15 Kara Wilson SO Potomac, Md.
Forwards
9 Kelly Cobb JR Chugiak, Alaska
10 Toni Payne FR Birmingham, Ala.
16 Laura Weinberg SR Boca Raton, Fla.
19 Kim DeCesare SR Massapequa Park, N.Y.
24 Mollie Pathman SR Durham, N.C.
Subs
22 Malinda Allen FR Memphis, Tenn.
23 Danielle Duhl JR Los Angeles, Calif.

FLORIDA:
Goalkeeper
0 Taylor Burke JR Medina, Ohio
Defenders
15 Tessa Andujar JR San Clemente, Calif.
8 Claire Falknor SO Dayton, Ohio
14 Maggie Rodgers SR Gulf Breeze, Fla.
20 Christen Westphal SO Brecksville, Ohio
Midfielders
22 Pamela Begic FR Slovenia
28 Meggie Dougherty FR Largo, Fla.
6 Lauren Smith SO Eustis, Fla.
19 Havana Solaun JR Gainesville, Fla.
13 Annie Speese JR Augusta, Ga.
Forwards
7 Savannah Jordan FR Fayetteville, Ga.
Subs

2 Annie Bobbitt JR Fleming Island, Fla.
12 Lindsey Cooper SO Clearwater, Fla.
21 Jillian Graff JR Medina, Ohio
11 Brooke Sharp FR Ponte Vedra, Fla.
1 Lauren Silver JR Miami, Fla.
16 Liz Slattery FR Cincinnati, Ohio
41 Taylor Travis SR Cary, N.C.
89 Caroline Triglia SR Jacksonville, Fla.


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