Florida will move on to face Jacksonville on Sunday

Photo by Faith Buckley

Redshirt sophomore Emerson Cabrera threw in a last-second overhand goal and met with the grass shortly after. The redshirt sophomore picked up her first goal of the season and gave the determined Gators a 16-point as they entered the last three minutes of the first half.

Fans cheered, chomped and celebrated from the bleachers of Donald R. Disney Stadium Friday as the Gators beat Mercer University 23-5 in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championships Friday.

Opening the game, Paisley Eagan bolted towards the Mercer net and rammed in a clean free position goal. Only 47 seconds into regulation, and the Gators defended their territory.

Brianna Harris made a stark comeback after a rough check to the back by a Bear in the first half. The senior scored cleanly on the free position three times and notched a hat trick. She holds a staggering 44 goals for the season.

Danielle Pavinelli dipped her toes into the gold mine with a clean shot five minutes into the first and now holds 29 season goals.

Seventeen seconds later, Shelton Sawyers took on the attack zone with qn overhand shot that brought Florida 7-0 against Mercer.

Shannon Kavanagh met success 18 minutes into the game, a little late for the AAC Midfielder of the Year. The senior scored an impressive pop shot from the cage’s right side after a pass from Maggi Hall. 

Nevertheless, she had a mighty impact on the rest of the game. 

In the span of ten minutes in the first half, she notched in her 16th hat trick of the season.

The senior shot in an overhand goal at the top of the net only three minutes later with an assist by Harris.

Kavanagh dodged Mercer player Haley Gerold for a wraparound goal five minutes into the second period to bring the Gators a 19-point advantage. 

Fans shouted Janine Suris’ name after the attacker struck in a sharp overhand shot 15 minutes into the second half. She holds five goals for the season. 

Kassidy Bresnahan fought with Isabella Yagodich in the attack zone and pulled in

Emily Heller riled up a vicious wrist shot seven minutes into the second half and brought the score 21-1. Only five minutes later, she pushed through a myriad of Mercer defenders for a second goal. The sophomore collected 13 points this season. 

Pushing through Haley Gerold, Sami Van Slyke and Carly Curran, Brianna Harris brought the heat with her fifth goal of the half and gave Florida a 18-1 lead to close it out. 

Mercer only found the back of the net only five times in the game at the hands of Hailey Rhatigan, Kileigh Casey and Eva Thorn.

Rhatigan struggled through Florida’s defense and pushed in an overhand goal to put Mercer on the scoreboard 15 minutes into the game.

The midfielder brought in a clean overhand shot and scored the second Mercer goal of the day. 

Florida dominated the save count 38 to Mercer’s weak 9. 

Julia Hammerschlag replaced Sarah Reznick in the cage 20 minutes into the second half and held a respectable .400 save percentage. 

The Gators are set to verse Jacksonville for game two of the first round on Sunday at 12 p.m.

Contact Faith Buckley on her Twitter @_faithbuckley

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