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Friday, December 03, 2021
<p>Egor Koulechov led the team in rebounding during the 2017-18 season</p>

Egor Koulechov led the team in rebounding during the 2017-18 season

We’re not perfect here at alligatorSports. This summer, we’ve been going over some of the best athletes and teams. But now, we’re going to take a look at some of those programs or people that we left out or missed.

Our staff roundtable of Brendan Farrell, Andrew Huang, Evan Lepak, Chris O’Brien and Mark Stine contributed their Honorable Mention of the Year.

Brendan: We’ve covered a lot for our alligatorSports Awards, but I think that the UF soccer team probably deserves more attention than we’ve given them over the past couple months. I realize that football, basketball and baseball are the most popular sports on campus, but I think we do forget about some of the other sports in Gainesville.

This team went 17-7 over the course of the season and made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. The United Soccer Coaches postseason poll had the team finish sixth in the country.

Arguably, the best moment of the season came in postseason play in the Sweet 16 against Washington State. The Gators had their chances in this game, but neither team could break through in regulation as the game headed to overtime in a scoreless tie.

In the first overtime, senior Gabby Seiler slid a through pass to freshman Deanne Rose. Rose took a touch, evaded two defenders and took a shot at an open goal. The ball sailed over the crossbar as a dejected Rose fell to the ground.

The game went on.

Moving onto the second overtime, Seiler again moved towards goal before giving the ball to junior Lais Araujo. Araujo gathered it and played it back to a streaking Rose. Rose was now one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Rather than sailing the ball towards the heavens, Rose kept it low, burying the shot in the corner of the net, sending the Gators to the Elite Eight for the sixth time in program history and the first since 2014.

It might not have been the biggest sporting event at UF over the last year, but I feel that it at least deserves a mention.

 

@Bfarrell727

bfarrell1@alligator.org

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Andrew: An up-and-down season that finished on a sour note – early exits in both the SEC and NCAA tournaments – might distract the casual fan from the amount of talent on the UF men’s basketball roster.

Chris Chiozza (First Team All-SEC, SEC All-Defensive team), along with at-times lethal scorers KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson, were part of a crowded back court rotation for the Gators. It was hard for UF’s guards to all shine at once, especially Allen, who led Florida in scoring the season before last.

But graduate transfer shooting guard Egor Koulechov might have been the most consistent of the bunch. With the front court missing about half of its frontcourt depth due to injury, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Koulechov found himself lining up at power forward for much of the season.

He was a knockdown shooter – 39.5 percent from long range and 86.4 percent from the line – and these skills quickly earned him a nickname in Gainesville: “3gor.”

But that’s not what was most impressive about Koulechov. As an undersized power forward he led UF in total rebounds (218) and rebounds per game (6.4). The Gators’ No. 2 rebounder was 6-foot-9 power forward/center Kevarrius Hayes (5.0 per game).

 

@AndrewJHuang

ahuang@alligator.org

 

Evan: Sometimes streaks are meant to be broken, and it certainly looked like one was coming to a miserable end for the Florida Gators football team in Lexington, Kentucky, last September.

UF came into the game riding a 30-game winning streak against UK that dated back to 1987.

1987? Let that simmer for a second.

It’s been over 30 years since the Wildcats tasted sweet victory over the Gators.

That’s utter dominance by one team over another, and, yes, that is also currently the longest active streak in the NCAA.

A 27-14 fourth-quarter deficit for the Gators had me believing wholeheartedly that the streak was coming to an end that night.

And who wouldn’t? The offense had been stagnant all night, and Luke Del Rio was under center.

Thankfully for UF though, a trick play that featured Kadarius Toney tossing a 50-yard pass to Tyrie Cleveland set up a scoring drive that would close the gap to 27-21 with just over seven minutes to play.

On the next offensive series, after a stop by Florida’s defense, the unit kept the miracles coming.

Two third-down conversions and a couple atypical fourth-down conversions on the drive allowed the Gators offense to get inside UK’s 10-yard line with under a minute to go.

That helped set up a Luke Del Rio touchdown pass to an inconceivably uncovered Freddie Swain in the back corner of the end zone to give UF the 28-27 lead.

UK would go on to miss a 57-yard field goal to end the game and continue to break the hearts of the Kentucky faithful.

 

@evanmplepakkk

elepak@alligator.org

 

Chris: Honestly, I don’t think we gave enough love to women’s golfer Elin Esborn. She was a legitimate Newcomer of the Year candidate and we didn’t throw her a bone because she redshirted last year.

Her first year in action was marred by inconsistency, but when she was on, man, she was on.

She definitely was the No. 2 on the team behind Sierra Brooks, who was one of the most dominant athletes in the sport, but Esborn was close behind her in a few events.

Before Brooks arrived in January, Esborn opened the season with a No. 5 finish at the Ocean Course Invitational in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

During the back half of the year though, the native of Sweden caught fire.

She finished fourth at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, while playing individually. About 20 days later, she followed up that performance with a top-3 finish at the Suntrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville.

Not bad for a freshman.

Finally, she finished tied for 12th at the NCAA Regional Tournament to lead the team to the NCAA Championship.

Maybe not the freshman of the year, but she definitely deserved an honorable mention.

 

@THEChrisOB

cobrien@alligator.org

 

Mark: If you’re a UF sports fan, you should know who Lindsey Ronbeck is.

The lacrosse team’s captain and leading scorer (65 goals) had a monstrous junior season, one where she led the team in scoring despite missing three games due to an injury she picked up against Navy on March 13.

When she returned in the team’s matchup with Connecticut on March 31, Ronbeck scored 10 points (six goals, four assists). The mark was a career high, and Ronbeck became only the second Gator (Ashley Bruns, 11, 2012 against Sienna) to register double-digit points.

But she saved her best for the Big East Tournament, which was hosted by UF.

In the semifinal against Marquette, Ronbeck set the record for most goals scored in a Big East tournament game (8) and tied the Florida record for most goals in a game (Shannon Gilroy, 2014 against High Point).

The Gators cruised to 18-6 victory over Denver in the final, and Ronbeck dumped in seven more scores, setting the Big East record for goals in a single tournament at 15 and earning her the tournament MVP. She now holds the most goals in the tournament’s history (31), however, she won’t be able to extend that record as UF moves to the ACC next season.

Ronbeck’s dominant 2018 season won her Second Team All-American honors.

It’ll be exciting what she’ll be capable of in her senior season, especially if she can stay healthy.

 

@mstinejr

mstine@alligator.org

Egor Koulechov led the team in rebounding during the 2017-18 season

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