There weren’t any controversial stick checks or overtime periods.
But there was the end of an era.
For the second straight year, Syracuse (18-3) ended Florida’s (18-3) season, as the Gators lost 13-9 on Saturday in the Carrier Dome in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
It was the final time the 13 Gators seniors took the field — 10 of whom had been with the team for the entirety of the program’s four-year existence and committed to UF before the school even had its own field.
“This is obviously a disappointing way to end their career,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “But at the same time, we’ve got to be so proud of what they’ve accomplished and what they brought to the university.”
Last season, Syracuse erased a 12-5 second-half Florida lead to force overtime in the NCAA semifinals in Stony Brook, N.Y.
The Gators looked to have won the game on a free-position shot from attacker Gabi Wiegand in the final seconds of the first overtime.
But the goal was called back after the Orange called a stick check and her stick pocket was ruled illegal. After winning the opening draw of the second overtime, Syracuse scored on the first possession to advance to the championship.
On Saturday, the Orange controlled the ball for the first four minutes and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Gators scored their way back into the game for remainder of first half as seniors Kitty Cullen and Gabi Wiegand and sophomore Nora Barry notched goals to take the lead,. The defense did not allow a goal for an 18-minute stretch.
Freshman midfielder Kelly Cross broke Syracuse’s scoring drought at the 8:34 mark of the first half, and both teams scored once more to make it 4-4 at halftime.
However, that was as close as the game would get. Orange freshman and All-American Kayla Treanor scored 53 seconds into the second half to give Syracuse the lead for good.
Although the Class of 2013 Gators did not advance to the Final Four as they did during their junior season, O’Leary said Saturday’s loss couldn’t tarnish the importance of their four years in Gainesville.
“They represented us in the best possible manner and will always hold a special place in my heart,” O’Leary said. “They put us on the map.”
Contact Josh Jurnovoy at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: This story was edited and re-published for the Welcome Back Edition of the Alligator on August 21.
Senior attacker Kitty Cullen looks to score against UAlbany on Feb. 24 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Cullen scored two goals in her final game for the Gators.