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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Gators win sunshine state face off, advance to Sweet 16

Florida advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship with the win

Florida attacker Danielle Pavinelli holds up the field during the Gators' 17-8 win over the Michigan Wolverines Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
Florida attacker Danielle Pavinelli holds up the field during the Gators' 17-8 win over the Michigan Wolverines Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.

After a four-goal Dolphin comeback late in the third quarter, the Gators had one minute to widen the gap. 

At the 20-second mark, junior attacker Danille Pavinelli cut straight to the goal and received a moving pass from junior attacker Maggi Hall to bring the game back into Florida’s control. 

The No. 6 Florida Gators (16-3, 5-1 AAC) defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins (12-7, 6-1 ASUN) 13-7 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon. The Gators found opportunities to share the wealth and fielded second-string players throughout the game. 

The Dolphins won the opening draw and three Jacksonville attackers attempted to score on Florida redshirt junior Sarah Reznick – all of which were blocked. 

Senior defender Becky Browndorf passed the ball to freshman defender Theresa Bragg, who carried it across the restraining line. The Gators offense worked the ball around until redshirt senior Paisley Eagan shot low and put Florida on the scoreboard first. 

On the next play, junior midfielder Madison Waters’ shot was deflected and possession was briefly returned to the Dolphins before senior defender Catherine Flaherty forced a turnover and flipped it upfield. 

Florida’s offense passed the ball around until sophomore attacker Emma LoPinto saw an open pass to junior attacker Ashley Gonzalez to increase Florida’s lead to two. 

The Dolphins broke zero with 1:47 left in the first quarter. 

Jacksonville won the first draw of the second quarter and went to goal – only to be stopped by Reznick. 

Sophomore midfielder Josie Hahn came off the bench and immediately onto the scoreboard to create a 3-1 lead for the Gators. 

Jacksonville responded by narrowing Florida’s lead to one. 

The Gators took advantage of a Dolphin turnover on the next play and LoPinto found space to shoot top shelf. 

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Hall received a penalty shot and increased Florida’s lead to 5-2. 

On the next play, Jacksonville lost possession behind the goal. LoPinto scooped up the loose ground ball and whipped it around the crease to score.

Waters received a penalty shot at the top of the arc and launched the ball into the net to leave the Gators up 7-2 at the end of the first half. 

Early in the second half, LoPinto passed the ball from behind the net to Pavinelli who seamlessly rallied the ball into the back of the net. 

Jacksonville began to close the gap late in the third quarter with four consecutive goals. 

With 20 seconds left in the quarter, Pavinelli cut down the middle lane and scored off a pass from Hall. Fifth-year midfielder Emily Diaz scored 14 seconds later and left the Gators up 10-6 at the end of the third frame. 

Shelton Sawers won the first draw of the fourth quarter followed by a hat-trick goal for Pavinelli. 

Pavinelli scored the following two goals as the clock winded down on the eventual win. 

In the last minute of the game, Jacksonville found an opportunity to put one last point on the scoreboard to close its 2023 season.

The Gators advance to the second round of the NCAA Championship to play the winner of Notre Dame and Mercer’s Saturday night matchup on Sunday at noon. The game will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Contact Kate Wiggins @kwiggins@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @katewigginz.

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Kate Wiggins

Kate Wiggins is a second-year advertising major and women's lacrosse reporter for The Alligator. Catch her pumping iron at Southwest Rec, double-scooting her friends to class, or dancing around at the nearest EDM concert.


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