Florida once again matched up against a familiar opponent along its NCAA tournament run Sunday. After defeating Mercer 19-12 in the first round and for the second time this season, the Gators were set for a rematch against Jacksonville.
The Gators took down JU 12-6 at home when the two teams last met on April 27. UF looked at first to be running away with another victory over the Dolphins, before a late push put the orange and blue’s title hopes in jeopardy.
Florida (17-4, 5-0 AAC) defeated Jacksonville (14-5, 5-0 ASUN) 15-10 to move on towards the Elite Eight and keep hopes of a 2022 title alive.
The Gators came firing out of the gate, scoring five goals in the opening period. Sophomore attacker Danielle Pavinelli led the way with five goals and made history as the 15th 100 goal scorer in UF lacrosse history.
Pavinelli wasn’t the only Florida player to boast a career night. Freshman Josie Hahn came up big for the Gators, scoring the first hat trick of her young collegiate career.
UF closed out the productive first half of offense up 10-4 over Jacksonville, the next round of the tournament within reach. All the Gators needed was to hold off the Dolphins for 30 more minutes.
That’s not as easy as it sounds, and JU showed. Jacksonville outscored Florida 4-2 in the third quarter to shrink the deficit to 13-8 just five points in a game where goals were in high supply.
The Gators were able to respond and outscore JU to close the game, but the credit goes to the UF defense in the final period. Goalie Sarah Reznick saved six of eight shots on goal in the fourth quarter. The redshirt sophomore’s defensive stand helped Florida stay on top as time expired, and propelled the Gators to the next round of the tournament.
Up next, Florida will take on Maryland in the Elite Eight. Easily UF’s toughest postseason opponent thus far, the Terrapins are No. 2 in the IWLCA Top 25 and have just one loss to their name. The Gators were run off the field by Maryland earlier this season, losing 18-8 in College Park.
First draw is set for Thursday, May 19 with the time to be announced.