Gators win Florida lacrosse battle in NCAA tournament with 15-10 victory over Jacksonville

Graham Hall
Gator Sports
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The Florida lacrosse program made the most of its role as host for the first and second rounds of the NCAA lacrosse tournament. 

The Gators (17-5, 5-0 AAC) advanced to the quarterfinals with a 15-10 defeat of Jacksonville University Sunday at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium, marking UF’s 15th consecutive victory. 

With the victory, the Gators set up a rematch with No. 2 Maryland following the Terrapins’ 19-6 defeat of Duke. Maryland claimed an 18-8 victory over UF on Feb. 26. 

"I think it was a little bit different than the way we played on Friday," UF coach Amanda O'Leary said. "I thought we really stepped up, played hard, played well and got some draw controls early, got some goals early. It was great momentum."

Jacksonville (14-5, 5-0 ASUN) did start the game in better fashion than the Dolphins began the April 27 contest with UF, which ended in a 12-6 victory by Florida. After the Gators opened the scoring with a goal from Josie Hahn, JU’s Megan Prescott answered back with her 10th goal of the season. 

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Following the Dolphins’ 20-8 win over Stanford University Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, JU coach Mindy McCord had emphasized the need for the Dolphins to play to their style against the Gators — something she felt Jacksonville had done in the second half of the initial matchup. 

But the Dolphins quickly found themselves in a similar situation as the Gators proceeded to score four answered goals to take a 5-1 lead by the conclusion of the first quarter.

JU opened the second quarter with a pair of goals, trimming UF’s lead to 5-3, but the Gators responded with a run of four goals of their own to make it 9-3. Prescott snapped UF’s scoring streak with her second goal, which came with 2:52 to play until halftime, though Danielle Pavinelli reinstated Florida’s six-goal advantage just prior to halftime. 

The Dolphins added four goals in the third quarter, though UF still held a 12-8 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play after goals from Maggi Hall and Pavinelli. 

Here are takeaways from the contest.

Florida lacrosse team celebrates against Jacksonville in their NCAA match on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Gainesville.

Defense steps up for UF

"I thought it was a testament to our defense to be able to squash those runs," O'Leary said of the Dolphins' late charge. "But also, for every time they went on a run we were able to respond offensively." 

With each team’s season hanging in the balance, UF’s defense held the Dolphins to two goals in the decisive period while tallying three goals to send the Gators to Champaign, Illinois, as one of eight teams remaining in the NCAA tournament. UF goalkeeper Sarah Reznik recorded 12 saves on 22 shots by the Dolphins. 

"I think that's we've come to expect from Sarah. I mean, she has lived up to every expectation and exceeded all expectations," O'Leary said. "I think she's not only just a dominant player on the field, but just such a leader in the locker room off the field. She's a really special player."

Danielle Pavinelli crosses triple-digit scoring mark

Leading goal-scorer Danielle Pavinelli continued her prolific sophomore season Sunday, She found the back of the net five times to give her 72 goals on the season and 102 on her career. Before getting credited with a goal of her own, Pavinelli assisted on a goal by Hall, which gave the Gators a 4-1 lead. 

"What she's accomplished is due to all the hard work she puts in," O'Leary said of Pavinelli. "She comes to practice everyday prepared, ready to go and gives her best, and I think we're seeing all that of come to fruition out on the field."

Pavinelli attributed her scoring prowess to her teammates.

"I owe all of it to my teammates, I couldn't have done it without them. Them creating opportunities for me to score, it means so much to me," she said, "and every single person I play with on the field has done so much to get me here, and I really owe it all to them."

Jacksonville makes change in the net

Florida’s early lead led to a change in front of the net for the Dolphins.

Jacksonville substituted on Addy Tysdal for Paige Pagano after just 18 minutes of play after the Gators took a 7-3 lead at the top of the second quarter. Tysdal played the remaining 41:57 of the contest and held UF to eight goals while recording six saves to Pagano’s three. 

It may not have led to a different result, but it was a sign the Dolphins weren’t willing to go down without a fight over the final two-thirds of the game. 

Florida set for rematch 

With the victory, the Gators are set for another battle with the highly touted Maryland Terrapins. 

In the third game of the season, the Gators went on the road to College Park, Maryland, and suffered an 18-8 defeat, but Florida has thrived in the nearly three-month stretch since the loss to Maryland. The Gators have won 15 of their previous 17 games heading into the quarterfinals, and the game will occur at a neutral site rather than on the Terrapins’ home field. 

With those factors in mind, Florida likes its chances in the rematch. 

"They're the No. 2 team in the country for a reason. They're solid at both ends of the field, through the midfield, but I like our chances," O'Leary said. "We are much better than we were when we played them the first time. They probably also have improved as well, but I'm excited to take this group up there and see what we can do."

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