UF roundup: Gators lose heartbreaker at SEC women’s golf championships

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Special to Gatorsports.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Florida women’s golf team dropped a heartbreaking match to Ole Miss on a playoff hole Saturday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Championships.

After earning the top seed Friday at the conclusion of three rounds of stroke play, the Gators faced Ole Miss in the first round of match play Saturday morning. A rocky first nine holes for all five pairs had the Gators and Rebels all square heading into the second nine.

Freshman Clara Manzalini led the way after sophomore Elin Esborn dropped the first pair on the 16th hole 3&2. Manzalini took three of her last six holes to take the win 4&3. Junior Sierra Brooks was next up on the tee and next to put one in the win column, taking her pair 4&3 by winning three of her final six holes as well. Both Manzalini and Brookes wrapped play on the 15th green.

A surge from sophomore Addie Baggarly kept the spirit alive for the Gators as she entered the second nine down by two holes. She parred five of her final nine and won 15 and 16 to take the match to the final hole. As both players parred 17, Baggarly went into the 18th down one and dropped the match 2UP.

The Gators were 2-2 with Ole Miss as the final pair approached the 18th hole with junior Marta Perez all square with her opponent after dropping the 17th hole. After both players parred 18 to remain all square, they went on to a playoff on the first hole.

Both Perez and her Ole Miss opponent, Macy Somoskey, hit the fairway off the drive and landed in the bunker off their second shot. Somoskey landed 2 feet from the hole coming out of the bunker. Perez’s first try to get out of the sand was a doozey. The ball only went further into the sand and had to be dug out with the assistance of the rules official. On her second attempt, Perez popped the ball about 20 feet from the hole and drained her only putt. Unfortunately, Somoskey also made her putt and took the hole by two strokes.

“This one stings for sure,” UF coach Emily Bastel Glaser said. “Based on stroke play and even how we played today, it’s hard to argue we aren’t one of the best teams here. But everyone who knows golf knows match play is a different animal and we weren’t able to get it done today. Credit to Ole Miss, they were extremely motivated and not at all scared. They played their best golf of the week today when it mattered most.”

The Gators will now wait for their NCAA Regional future. The NCAA women’s golf Selection Show will be Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on the Golf Channel.

Lacrosse: At Storrs, Conn., No. 18 Florida pushed its winning streak to seven straight with the 16-5 win over UConn (2-14, 0-4).

This win moved Florida (10-6 overall) to 4-0 in conference play, keeping the squad tied with Cincinnati at the top of the field with one game left to play. The Gators face the Bearcats next Saturday to crown the regular season champion.

Shannon Kavanagh led the offensive attack for the Gators, scoring five goals on the afternoon. That mark tied her career-best and she also posted a career-best in points, finishing the day with eight. Madi Hall, Hannah Mardiney and Lindsey Ronbeck each pitched in two goals as well.

Florida won 19-of-23 draw controls on the day, including a career-best 13 by Shannon Kavanagh.

As a squad, the Gators caused 12 turnovers, led by two apiece from Kaitlyn Dabkowski, Cara Trombetta and Kavanagh. 

Men’s golf: At Columbus, Ohio, Florida closed its regular season with the second-best finish and four players inside the top 25.

After finishing the first round in fourth, the tournament got shortened to only two rounds due to weather. Saturday’s second round was the final and the Gators took advantage of their position. Sophomore Chris Nido finished his 18 holes with four birdies in a row to card a 68 and finish in a tie for eighth. Senior Gordon Neale was right behind him with four birdies on the day and also carding a final-round score of 68. He finished T11.

Junior Blake Dyer had his best finish of the season in only his second appearance in the lineup this spring, with a one-under score of 70 in the final round and finishing T17. Sophomore John Axelsen was the fourth Gator to finish inside the top 25 at T21.

Ohio State won the even at 573 (+5), Michigan State was second at 577 (+9) and Florida was third at 581 (+13).