Florida is the only team to play in both AAC Conference Championship matches

Photo by Benjamin Fox | ChompTalk.com

With a pass from Brianna Harris, senior Kassidy Bresnahan fiercely turned around and swung into the net to give Florida an eleven-point lead in the final 16 seconds of the first period. The Gators were officially in game mode. 

Florida took down the Cincinnati Bearcats 19-6 in the American Athletic Conference semifinals in Gainesville, Florida Thursday evening and didn’t look back.

Offensively, the Gators showed their prowess as they shot four goals in net within a 60-second time span 17 minutes into the first half.

Shortly prior, after a swift save by redshirt freshman Sarah Reznick, Paisley Eagan marked her 23rd goal this season with an intimidating power shot a minute and a half into the game. The midfielder followed up four minutes later with a clean free position goal. 

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Grace Haus knocked in a few of her own with a hat trick in the span of three minutes and a goal to round out the first half.

Haus showed her hunger as she fought through Cincinnati defense to bring a 5-2 Gators lead in a high wrist shot.  The second-leading goal scorer in the AAC – behind Kavanagh – now sits at 46 goals for the season as she boasts her title of AAC Attacker of the Year. 

Coming back into the game and roughing through the black and red, midfielder Eagan slipped the ball behind goaltender Gianna Pope and brought the score to a whopping 16-2 lead around second period halftime.

Minutes later, Conference player of the year Danielle Pavinelli pulled in her 28th goal (2nd of the day) as she slipped the ball in the net with a solid overhand goal. 

Brianna Harris took advantage of a free position with a strategic last-second shot ten minutes into the first half and reached the 100-goal mark. The fifth-year attacker became the 14th Gator to achieve the record. 

Harris flared the ball to Ashley Gonzalez where the midfielder shot an impressive turnaround goal to end the 12-minute Gators dry streak in the second half 15-2. The freshman notched five assists and logs in a fiesty 15 goals for the regular season.

Midfielder Shannon Kavanagh had her slice of cake with five minutes left in the first half as the midfielder struck in a classic overhand shot. 

While she didn’t notch her typical hat trick, the senior became the fourth Gator to reach 200 goals in program history, and continued her stride with a sneaky around-the-net goal thirty seconds later in regulation time.

“(Shannon) dominates at both ends of the field,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said.

“Offensively, defensively, through the midfield, on the draw circle. She’s an all-everything player.”

Perseverance bled off Florida’s gray uniforms and onto the field Thursday evening as they held a staggering 34 shots over Cincinnati’s 16 and dominated on the draw control 16-9.

“We had to come out on fire,” said starting goaltender Sarah Reznick.

Kaala Pugulisi ripped down the middle of the attack zone with a quick overhand shot with seven minutes left in the game and gave Florida a 14-point lead. The sophomore ran the field with a fresh face of players, with appearances from Jackie Norsworthy, Maddie McMaster and Whitney Albert.

The Gators came just as hungry on the defense.

Reznick collected her accolades with an incredible .700 save percentage in the 48 minutes in the cage.

Julia Hammerschlag stood in net the final 12 minutes of the game and held a respectable .250 save percentage. 

Liz Harrison took over Kavanagh’s seat in the draw circle as she won went back-to-back draw controls in the second period. 

Janine Suris closed the game with a killer overhand goal in a free position attempt with a mere 17 seconds left of regulation. The sophomore holds four goals in the season. 

The Gators face off in the draw circle Saturday at 12 p.m. against the winner of the second seed Vanderbilt vs. Temple matchup Thursday night. The game can be watched live on ESPN+ 

Contact Faith Buckley on Twitter @_faithbuckley

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