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Gators Use Fourth Quarter Surge to Blow by Virginia into Elite Eight; LHP alum Liz Harrison Dominates Draws

Florida lacrosse will be in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2022, and the eighth time in program history. 19 wins ties a program record last accomplished in 2012

via UF press release/website, by Corey Lichtman


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Ashley Gonzalez’s goal with 29 seconds left in the third quarter proved to be the difference maker, as the Florida lacrosse team (19-2, 6-0 AAC) defeated fifth-seeded Virginia (15-5, 6-3 ACC) by a score of 13-8 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Gators are advancing to their eighth quarterfinals, and first since 2022.

With the score tied 7-7 in the third quarter, Gonzalez’s goal sparked a 6-0 Gators run in a span of 11:57 to give UF their largest lead of the game at six goals. Florida outscored the Cavaliers 5-1 in the fourth quarter and never trailed in this contest.

It was a total team effort, as the Gators were led offensively by the trio of Gonzalez (three goals, two assists) Danielle Pavinelli (four goals, one assist) and Maggi Hall (two goals, three assists) who combined for 15 of the teams 22 points. Sarah Falk had her eighth multi-goal game of the season, connecting on both of her free position opportunities. Madison Waters and Paisley Eagan scored one goal each, with Eagan adding in an assist.

Florida dominated on the draw circle today, controlling the battle by a 19-6 margin over the Cavaliers. Liz Harrison secured her 13th double-digit draw control game of the season, winning 11 on the afternoon. Elyse Finnelle secured her eighth consecutive win in the cage, stopping six saves and scooping a team high four ground balls.

The defense forced difficult shots all game, as the Cavaliers put just 14 of their 22 shots on goal today (.636 percent), holding Virginia below their shot on goal percentage average of .706 on the season. Florida put 24 of their 26 shots (.923 percent) on target this game.

How It Happened

  • Harrison won the first draw control of the game, and the Gators struck first at the 14:00 mark. A patient, and heavy ball movement first possession ended in a Hall dime to a cutting Pavinelli who finished right around the cage to make it 1-0.
  • Following a Finnelle save, the Gators second goal was similar to the first, as Hall found a cutting Gonzalez in front of the net for the score putting Florida up 2-0 with 12:15 remaining.
  • The Cavaliers got on the board at the 9:12 point, but the Gators answered 64 seconds later. This time Pavinelli lofted it down to Gonzalez near the cage who buried it into the back of the net. Florida led 3-1.
  • A Virginia goal at the 4:34 mark, was quickly matched by the Gators with a 2-0 run to end the quarter. Falk connected on an eight-meter opportunity with 3:57 left, which was followed by a goal from Pavinelli 48 seconds later with the assist coming from Eagan. This was Pavinelli’s 50th goal of the season, and the 200th of her career. Florida was given two yellow cards in the final 3:09, to give Virginia a two player-up advantage going into the second. UF led 5-2.

Second Quarter

  • The Cavaliers connected 23 seconds into the quarter on the two player-up advantage. Florida answered, as the Gators ran a perfect fast break, led by Monaco who fed Hall for the score. Florida led 6-3 with 9:28 remaining.
  • Two Virginia Goals, one via free position made it a 6-5 game with 6:47 remaining in the half. Waters scored a much-needed goal with 3:41 left, dodging from the right wing to the middle placing it into the back of the cage. Florida held onto a two-goal advantage.
  • A player-up score from the Cavaliers with 2:01 left concluded the scoring for the half. UF took a 7-6 lead going into half.

Third Quarter

  • In a gritty third quarter that featured 11 total turnovers (five from UF, six from Virginia) only two goals were scored, as the teams were even at 1-1.
  • The Cavaliers tied the game at seven with 10:44 left in the third. The game then remained tied for 10:15 before Hall floated a pass from up top on the right, down low to Gonzalez who buried the score with 29 seconds left. Florida took an 8-7 lead heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • The fourth quarter was all Gators, as they outscored the Cavaliers 5-1 in the frame.
  • Kaitlyn Davies won the opening draw control of the quarter, which led to Falk drawing shooting space and converting on her second eight-meter score of the game. Florida opened the lead back up to two with 13:39 remaining.
  • It took just over five minutes for the Gators to score two goals in a period of 1:57, as Gonzalez was the feeder on both scores. The first one she found Pavinelli, followed by a pass to Eagan right in front of the cage to push the lead to four with 6:32 left.
  • At the 5:10 mark Florida tacked on two more scores in a span of 1:38 to put the icing on the cake. Monaco found Hall down near the cage for the first goal, followed by Pavinelli dodging her way to the cage for her fourth goal of the game. This concluded a 6-0 Gators run in an 11:57 span of time to give them a 13-7 advantage.
  • A late score from the Cavaliers wasn’t enough, as the Gators secured the 13-8 victory to advance to their eighth quarterfinals appearance in program history.

Key Notes

  • The Gators move to 1-0 all-time against the Cavaliers
  • Pavinelli’s second goal in the first quarter was her 200th score of her career. She is just the fifth player in program history to reach that milestone
  • The Gators move to 15-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 8-5 in the second round
  • Pavinelli had her 10th hat-trick of the season, and Gonzalez had her fifth
  • Florida is one of two unseeded teams in this tournament (Michigan) to move onto the quarterfinals
  • The Gators have won 19 games in a row, and 19 wins ties a program record set in 2012
  • UF won the assists battle by a 9-3 margin
  • Florida has now held their opponent to under 10 goals 16 times this season
  • This game featured a total of 36 fouls (22 from Virginia and 14 from Florida) and eight cards (three green and five yellow cards)

Season/Career Highs
Elyse Finnelle – tied career high four ground balls

Active Streaks (eight games or better)

Up Next           
Florida (19-2, 6-0 AAC) will travel to College Park, Md. to square off against the fourth-seeded Maryland Terrapins (14-5, 4-2 Big Ten) on Thursday at 12 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The game will be aired on ESPNU.

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