Florida women's soccer coach Burleigh to retire after season

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida women's soccer coach Becky Burleigh, who started the program in 1995 and won a national championship in her fourth year, is retiring at the end of this season.

The 53-year-old Burleigh made the announcement on social media Saturday after telling her team, saying “it's been such a privilege" to coach the Gators for 26 seasons.

Florida won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship 14 times under Burleigh, who owns another 12 SEC tournament titles. The Gators made the NCAA tournament 22 times in Burleigh's last 25 years at the helm.

“She was a winner before we hired her, a winner when she got here and a winner as a person,” said former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who plucked Burleigh from Berry College in June 1994.

Burleigh entered the 2020-21 season with 507 wins, placing her second among active Division I coaches. Her best season came in 1998, with future national team players Danielle Fotopoulos, Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts leading the Gators to the national championship by beating perennial powerhouse North Carolina.

Florida begins its eight-match spring 2021 season Feb. 19 at home against Florida Atlantic.