FINAL: FLORIDA 13, COLORADO 9
Gainesville, FL – The Florida Gators are Elite Eight bound! The Gators topped Colorado by a 13-9 margin to clinch the NCAA quarterfinals berth.
The Gators had to scrap and claw in order to advance this time as they dug themselves into an early 5-0 deficit. Florida’s defense made the necessary adjustments and advanced thanks to the effort. While acknowledging that they can’t afford to get down early against the #3 seed James Madison next week, Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary pointed out that this team has done it all year.
Trailing by five less than six minutes into the contest, the Gators made a feverish rally. Grace Haus started the rally for Florida, scoring at the 22:31 mark of the first half off a feed from Caroline Benitez.
In all, the Gators went on an 8-0 run to close out the first half. In addition to Haus, both Sydney and Shayna Pirreca added three goals each in the span to send Florida to the locker room with a 8-5 lead.
The Buffs opened the second half with a goal just 45 seconds into the period, but the Gators forced them to trade goals for much of the half with the exception of two straight by Colorado to make it a one-goal advantage at 9-8 with 18:08 left in regulation.
Benitez put the final nail in the coffin with the final tally with just 1:23 remaining.
For Florida, Haley Hicklen recorded 11 saves while Shayna Pirreca finished with a team high four goals. Sydney Pirreca added a hat-trick herself with three and Haus added a pair as well.
The Gators move on to the Elite Eight for the fourth time, but just the first time since 2012. They will face #3 seed James Madison in a road contest for the right to move to the Final Four. The Dukes advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals with a 15-12 victory over Virginia on Sunday. JMU is 19-1 on the season with wins against #3 North Carolina, #20 Penn State, #17 Virginia (twice), and #6 Towson twice. The Dukes are undefeated at 11-0 in home contests this season.