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Sunday, September 19, 2021

The last dance: Syracuse stuns Florida lacrosse to end Gators’ season

The Gators lack of offensive composure cost them any hope of an NCAA Championship

The Florida lacrosse team huddles against Vanderbilt on April 16. The team's season ended Saturday with a loss to Syracuse in the Elite Eight.
The Florida lacrosse team huddles against Vanderbilt on April 16. The team's season ended Saturday with a loss to Syracuse in the Elite Eight.

Florida’s stellar season ended unceremoniously in New York.

Defender Cara Trombetta dashed from the sideline to embrace attacker Brianna Harris and midfielder Shannon Kavanagh. Tears swelled in the seniors’ eyes as their UF lacrosse careers came to an end. 

The sixth-seeded Gators lined up at SU Soccer Stadium eager to eliminate the third-seeded Orange Saturday, but Syracuse danced away with a 17-11 win to advance to the Final Four and leave Florida eliminated and empty-handed. 

The weather favored the orange and blue despite the road trip as the humid 83-degree sunshine beat down in New York. UF struck first in the familiar heat to take an early lead. 

Kavanagh, the AAC Midfielder of the Year, was handed a yellow card off of an assertive play when she slashed Syracuse attacker Emma Ward in the head. Ward took the man-up opportunity to capitalize and give the home team its first lead of the game, 2-1. 

Kavanagh redeemed herself and scored in her 48th consecutive game. The senior bounced the ball past goalkeeper Asa Goldstock to score off a free position. Kavanagh ended her Florida career with 295 points.

Harris found former Boston College midfielder Paisley Eagan through traffic to rip the ball into the Orange’s goal and brought the Gators within one late in the first half with back-to-back goals. 

Midfielder Emily Heller cut through the eight-meter arc to drill the yellow ball into the polyester net and tie the game at five at the end of the first half. 

The Gators didn’t celebrate as they trekked to the locker room, however — they had unfinished business to take care of. 

The Orange felt similarly. Syracuse came out with a vengeance, scoring two goals just over two minutes into the second half. 

The Tyrell sisters, Emma and Meaghan, teamed up to increase the Orange lead to three. Emma drove to the net to stun Florida goalkeeper Sarah Reznick. 

AAC Goalkeeper of the Year Reznick totaled 11 saves in the match, but the absence of AAC Defensive Player of the Year Cara Trombetta haunted the Gators after Trombetta fell awkwardly and had to be helped off the field in the Sweet Sixteen against Jacksonville. 

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Florida’s dreams of the final four slipped away as ‘Cuse scored five in a row to take command of the game. 

Grace Haus, the AAC Attacker of the Year, buried a free position shot low to halt the streaking SU offense, but the damage had already been done.  

Ward ripped through the defense again and dashed through the middle of the eight-meter arc to cash another goal for Syracuse. The freshman shrugged her shoulders as if it were another day on the field. Ward finished the match with six goals. 

Harris refused to back down without a fight. The attacker sliced the defense and sent the ball flying into the back of the net. The senior’s aggressiveness got the best of her as she earned a yellow card for a push as the clock wound down. 

AAC Freshman of the Year Danielle Pavinelli scored on the Orange’s wide-open net, causing Goldstock to slam her stick out of frustration.

UF coach Amanda O’Leary decided to pull Reznick as SU ran off with the win. 

Syracuse earns its eighth Final Four appearance in program history and faces Northwestern. Florida’s wait for the program’s first championship continues for at least another season.

Contact Karina Wilson at kwilson@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @kk_rinaa

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Karina Wilson

Karina Wilson is a second-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications with a specialization in sports and media. She aims to produce engaging, accurate and current content for all types of sports fans. Currently, Karina is The Alligator's lacrosse beat writer.


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