UF lacrosse ready to host 1st- and 2nd-round play in NCAA tourney
Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 at 3:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 at 3:48 p.m.
Fresh off the program's second American Lacrosse Conference tournament title, No. 3-ranked Florida will host first- and second-round play in the NCAA tournament this weekend at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Who: No. 24 Mercer (34-11, 16-5 A-Sun) at No. 4 UF (33-15, 18-6 SEC)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: McKethan Stadium
Of note: Florida junior second baseman Casey Turgeon was chosen as the SEC Player of the Week after batting .727 (8-for-11) in the weekend sweep at Alabama. … The Gators are coming off their fourth SEC sweep of the season (LSU, Georgia, Missouri and Alabama). UF improved to 13-5 against ranked opponents this season.
UF (17-2), which rallied from a 7-2 halftime deficit to knock off No. 5 Northwestern, 9-8, on junior Nora Barry's game-winning goal with 32 seconds left in the championship final on the Wildcats' home field Sunday, earned the No. 4 overall tournament seed.
It is just the second time (2012) UF has won both the ALC regular-season and tournament titles, as the young Gators continue to impress.
“I told them after the game that they are exceeding all expectations on a daily basis,” coach Amanda O'Leary said. “I couldn't ask for more from them. They are pulling out these one-goal games in the last minute of play.
“Credit them for hanging in and not giving up when you're down 7-2 and the draws aren't going your way. It's a tough game to win without possession of the ball, but they fought hard, they worked hard, and they just came out with a victory.”
As one of the top six seeds in the 26-team NCAA field, the Gators, who are on a season-high, nine-game winning streak, have a first-round bye and will play the winner of Friday's game between Jacksonville (14-5) and No. 20 Denver (18-1) on Sunday.
This is the fourth-straight year the Gators have hosted a portion of the NCAA tournament and second year in a row the Dolphins and Pioneers have made the trip to Gainesville. In 2013, Denver defeated JU, 14-7, before losing to UF, 16-5.
“Having home-field advantage is critical for us,” O'Leary said. “We have done very, very well here at home.”
No. 8 seed UF will see a familiar foe in its first-round NCAA tournament match Friday at 3 p.m.
The Gators will square off against MEAC Champion South Carolina State, marking their third opening-round match against the Bulldogs in the last four years at Linder Stadium.
UF (19-5), which has hosted first- and second-round matches every year since the tournament expanded the field to 64 teams in 1999, and S. C. State (13-5) will square off following the opener at noon between Oklahoma State (15-8) and South Florida (18-3).
“We're getting used to seeing them,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “This will be the third time our seniors will see South Carolina State in the first round, so we know a little bit about them. On the other side of the draw, South Florida is a team we're fairly familiar with being so close to them, and Oklahoma State was the runner-up at the Big 12 tournament just a week or so ago.
“It's an awfully tough regional, but we're really happy to be at home, first and foremost, so that our three seniors (Sofie Oyen, Alexandra Cercone and Olivia Janowicz) get to play in front of our fans one more time.”
The two first-round winners will meet Saturday at 3 p.m., with the victor advancing to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga.
Swimming and diving
UF has announced the signings of Benjamin Lawless, Alex Donahue and Elisavet Panti to the 2014 recruiting class.
Lawless, a standout distance freestyler from Owings, Md., joins the men's team after attending North High School and competing with the Chesapeake Bay Aquatic Club.
Joining the women are a pair of sprint standouts in Donahue, the defending Florida High School state champion in both the 100 breaststroke and 50 free who attended Tampa Plant and trained with the Greater Tampa Aquatics Club, and Panti, who hails from Greece and excels in both the 50 and 100 free.