Shayna Pirreca saved the day.
With Florida down 11-8 to Michigan with 5:49 left in the game, the sophomore scored three straight goals within 1:15 to tie the score at 11.
The Gators retained possession at the next draw and ran down the clock after Pirreca was fouled. On the free-possession shot, she passed it off to Sammi Burgess who scored with 10.7 seconds left — the game-winning goal.
“I’m not gonna lie, I think I shut my eyes,” Burgess said of the goal.
No. 7 Florida defeated Michigan 12-11 Saturday afternoon at Donald R. Dizney Stadium to improve to 2-0 on the young season. A frustrating second half was saved by Pirreca’s heroics and the Gators’ refusal to give up.
“I think this was a great learning experience for us,” Pirreca said. “(Michigan was) hustling more than us, but in the end I think we were able to come together as a team and pull out a team win. It was all of us together, we believed in each other.”
Last season, Florida blew out Michigan 21-0. The Wolverines were an all-around different team this year, much improved on offense and defense, coming off a 14-1 season-opening win over Central Michigan.
Down 8-5 early in the second half, Michigan scored six unanswered goals and held Florida scoreless until Pirreca’s scoring spree. The Wolverine’s goalkeeper, Mira Shane, had eight superb saves, and Tess Korten, Kim Coughlan and Lauren Oberlander each scored two goals for Michigan.
“We gutted it out and it certainly wasn’t a pretty game, but we came out with a victory,” Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said. “I think that was something that, at this point, we’ll take. There’s a lot to learn from this game.”
It wasn’t pretty — Florida committed 10 turnovers and racked up 24 fouls — but the final goal between Pirreca and Burgess capped a furious comeback.
“Honestly, it was a blur,” Pirreca said. “But when I saw Sammi Burgess sitting there, there was no one else I would trust more to take that shot and she did an amazing job. She handled the pressure perfectly.”
Pirreca finished with a career-high tying four goals along with two assists. Burgess finished with three goals and junior Mollie Stevens also added three goals and four draw controls.
It was the first test of adversity this season for the No. 7 team in the country, and it won’t be the last.
“This game was kind of a wake up call,” Burgess said. “We need to come prepared every single time we step on the field. It’s gonna help us in the long run. That was a really good competition and we kind of gutted it out. That was hard work.”
The Florida lacrosse team celebrates Sammi Burgess' game-winning goal during UF's 12-11 win over Michigan on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.