UF Women: AAC Tournament Champs! Gators Defeat Vanderbilt to Clinch Crown!
Florida raises the tournament conference championship for the ninth time in program history
GREENVILLE, N.C. – The eighth-ranked Florida lacrosse team defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 18-7 on Saturday afternoon at Johnson Stadium to secure the 2022 AAC Tournament Championship.
The Gators improve to 15-4 on the year and have won 13-straight games leading up to the NCAA Tournament, while Vanderbilt falls to 11-7 on the year.
Florida secured its eighth-straight tournament championship and ninth overall with the win. The Gators were able to hoist both the regular season championship trophy and tournament championship trophy for the ninth time in program history.
Danielle Pavinelli earned the title of Most Outstanding Player for her performance, while Ashley Gonzalez, Maggi Hall, Emily Heller, Emma LoPinto, Catherine Moriarty and Sarah Reznick joined her on the All-Tournament Team.
Florida’s offensive attack was led by a six-goal performance from Pavinelli and a career-high four-goal effort from Heller. LoPinto and Gonzalez each followed with two goals apiece, while Whitney Albert, Maggi Hall, Moriarty and Shelton Sawers each added one score on the afternoon.
LoPinto led the way with a team-high two assists, while seven other Gators each dished out one apiece.
Florida’s defense held Vanderbilt to just 7-of-20 shooting (.350) on the afternoon, coming up with seven caused turnovers. Moriarty and Emma Wightman each led the way with two – tying Moriarty’s career-high mark – while Gonzalez, Pavinelli and Cabrera each registered one.
Sarah Reznick posted a stellar .600 save percentage in the cage for the Gators, recording nine saves in her 54:32 played.
The Gators now await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show to determine their postseason destination. The women’s selection show is slated for Sunday at 9 p.m. and will air on ESPNU.
No. 8 Florida (15-4)
How it Happened
- Vanderbilt struck first, scoring 1:15 into the game to take the 1-0 lead, but Maggi Hall answered with the equalizer on a pass from Emily Heller just 20 seconds later.
- Ashley Gonzalez picked up the rebound off a Vanderbilt save and snuck it past the goalie Gunning to give Florida the 2-1 advantage with 10:53 left to play in the first quarter. The Commodores responded just over five minutes later, knotting the game at 2-2 with 5:32 remaining in the frame.
- Danielle Pavinelli found the back of the cage to give Florida the one-goal advantage just under two minutes later, but once again Vanderbilt had a answer – tying it up 3-3 with under three minutes to play in the first quarter.
- With just five seconds remaining, Heller converted on a free-position attempt to give Florida the 4-3 lead going into the break.
- To kick off the second quarter, Gonzalez found a cutting Pavinelli in front of the cage for her second of the day, giving Florida the 5-3 lead.
- Following Pavinelli’s score, Emma LoPinto netted her first goal of the day, coming from behind the cage to put the Gators up three goals with 10:02 left to play in the half.
- On a fast break opportunity after a Vanderbilt turnover, Catherine Moriarty sped down the field, scoring the first goal of her career to give Florida the 7-3 lead.
- Two minutes later, Emerson Cabrera found Shelton Sawers directly in front of the cage, giving Sawers her first score of the day and putting UF up 8-3 with 3:47 left to play in the half. Heller followed with her second score in the game on a high-to-high shot to give Florida the five-goal lead going into halftime.
- The first goal of the second half came from the stick of Pavinelli – a hat trick for the sophomore – on a dish from LoPinto, giving Florida the 10-4 lead.
- In a woman-down situation and the shot clock down below 10 seconds, Heller found the back of the cage for third time today, rocketing a shot off to pull ahead 11-4 with 5:08 left in the third.
- The duo of Gonzalez and Pavinelli once again combined, this time with Pavinelli finding Gonzalez to give the Gators an eight-goal advantage. The Commodores got one back before the third quarter horn sounded, but Florida took the 12-5 lead into the final quarter.
- Florida scored three-straight goals to start the fourth frame and secure the running clock at 15-5. Pavinelli got the scoring started, converting on a free-position attempt for her 61st goal of the season. Heller followed with her fourth score of the day – a career-high for the junior – and then Pavinelli added her fifth goal to put Florida up 10.
- Vanderbilt scored with 7:11 left to cut the deficit to nine at 15-6, but Hall found Pavinelli for the sophomore’s sixth goal to once again turn on the running clock.
- The final Florida goal of the game came from the stick of Whitney Albert, with the assist from Madison Rielly. Vanderbilt scored in the final minute of the game, but the Gators secured their ninth conference tournament title for Florida with the 18-7 victory.
- The Gators won their ninth conference tournament championship, including their eighth-straight
- Florida has now won both the regular season and tournament championship in nine of 13 seasons
- The Gators improve to 14-2 against Vanderbilt
- Florida is 134-5 (.964) when facing teams not ranked in the IWLCA/ILWomen Top-25 Poll
- Emma LoPinto is just 12 points away from hitting 100 career points, becoming Florida’s 20th 100-point scorer
- If she hits it this season, she would be the first Florida freshman to do so
- When scoring at least 14 goals, the Gators are 164-2 in program history
- Streaking: Sarah Reznick has recorded a save in 48-straight games, the second-longest streak in program history
- Streaking: Danielle Pavinelli has registered a point in 22-straight games
- Streaking: Emma LoPinto has tallied a point in 16-straight games
- Streaking: Emily Heller has recorded a draw control in 19-straight games
- Streaking: Liz Harrison has recorded a draw control in 16-straight games
- Most Outstanding Player: Danielle Pavinelli
- All-Tournament Team members:
- Emily Heller recorded a career-high four goals in the game
- Catherine Moriarty scored her first career goal in the game and tied her career-high with two caused turnovers
- Madison Rielly tied her career-high with one assist
- Whitney Albert tied her career-best with one goal
- Emerson Cabrera recorded a career-high two draw controls
Insight from O’Leary
- “I am just so incredibly proud of the effort this team showed not only today, but this entire season up to this point. This was a huge team win for us and we are looking forward to seeing what this group can in the NCAA Tournament. All the credit to Vanderbilt, they played us tough after their emotional semifinal win and their goalie had a tremendous showing in the cage.”
- The Gators await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show to determine their postseason location
- The selection show will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU
- Both the women’s and men’s brackets will be announced throughout the show