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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Florida Gators lacrosse season comes to an end at the NCAA Quarterfinals

The seven-seeded Florida Gators lacrosse team loses to Big Ten Champion Maryland in the NCAA Tournament

<p>Sarah Reznick guards the net during a rainy conference affair against Vanderbilt 2021. She recorded nine saves in the quarterfinals matchup against Maryland.</p>

Sarah Reznick guards the net during a rainy conference affair against Vanderbilt 2021. She recorded nine saves in the quarterfinals matchup against Maryland.

It was a star-studded affair in College Park, Maryland, the home of the NCAA Quarterfinal matchup between the Florida Gators and the Maryland Terrapins. 

The Florida lacrosse team fought an uphill battle against No. 2 Maryland as their season came to an end with a 18-5 defeat Thursday. Competitive early, the game was blown open by a dominant outing for the Big Ten Champions in the second half to catapult the Terrapins to the Final Four.

Entering Thursday, the head-to-head duel between Maryland’s junior Emily Sterling and Gators’ goaltender Sarah Reznick marked a fierce battle between the cages. 

Sterling, a Bel Air, Maryland, native was named the 2022 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year. She limited the Gators offense with eight saves on 24 shots. As a team, the Terrapins held Florida to a season-low five goals. 

For Florida, AAC Goalkeeper of the Year Reznick fended off Maryland's attack early but was not able to withstand the late scoring onslaught. 

Midfielder Victoria Hensh opened up the scoring out of the gate for Maryland after the Terrapins controlled the opening draw. However, the orange and blue stared down the two-seeded foe and answered right back. 

On the ensuing draw control, UF acclaimed possession and with 13:38 left in the first quarter freshman standout Emma LoPinto tied it at one, scoring her 63rd goal on the year. A defensive battle to begin with, Florida did an impressive job limiting scoring opportunities.

That was until a man-up opportunity midway through the opening quarter helped Maryland regain the lead. Midfielder Aurora Cordingley found the back of the net, but sophomore Danielle Pavinelli answered the call to rebound with 3:59 remaining. 

Maryland did not blink as it formulated a 4-1 run heading into halftime. Gators midfielder Emily Heller put her 31st goal between the pipes to cut the Terrapins lead to 5-3. Midfielder Libby May restored Maryland’s three-goal lead, though, with an immediate answer. The junior scored two goals during the spurt including a fiery shot to get the yellow ball past Reznick. UF trailed 6-3 heading into the second half. 

Maryland came out after the break and put its foot firmly on the gas. The Terrapins offensive ball control and suffocating defense was just too much for head coach Amanda O’Leary and the Gators to handle. 

Maryland outscored Florida 8-1 in the third quarter. Sophomore Maggi Hall found Ashley Gonzalez for Florida’s only score in the third. UF took advantage from a man-up advantage, making the score 8-4 with 11:23 left in the frame.

The Terps’ then caught another scoring run, this time a 6-0 blitz, forcing a running clock with just over two minutes left in the third. 

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Florida managed to put one more tally on the board before the final buzzer sounded, sending the Gators packing. 

For the game, May, Cordingley and junior attacker Hannah Leubecker led Maryland's scoring. May, a Sparks, Maryland, native, netted five goals which led all players including tying Florida’s scoring as a team. Leubecker and Cordingley each earned themselves a hat trick. 

In retrospect, Florida finished the year having its 15-game winning streak snapped, failing to avenge their February 26th defeat to the Terrapins.

“Credit Maryland, they came out and executed their game plan well. I am just so proud of this team,” O’Leary said. “They have grown so much since the season started and we are young, so we know what we need to work on to not be in this position again.”

Florida’s future heading into the offseason looks promising. With the emergence of LoPinto and the upward trajectory of Pavenelli, the Gators surely will be back in the thick of things next season. 

Contact Curtis Follow him on Twitter @CurtisMichaud1.

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Curtis Michaud

Curtis Michaud is a fourth-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications. He specializes in sports and media and would like to continue to provide authentic, thorough, and engaging sport content for all readers. He is an enterprise reporter and lacrosse and track and field writer for The Alligator.

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