#2 Gators Win Second Straight Big East Lacrosse Title, Top UConn 13-8

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via press release   GAME HIGHLIGHT VIDEO   GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For a sixth consecutive season, the University of Florida women’s lacrosse program captured a regular season conference championship, securing its second straight BIG EAST Conference crown with Sunday’s (April 24) 13-8 victory over UConn at Donald R. Dizney Lacrosse Stadium. By winning the league’s regular season title, Florida wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament, and will open postseason play in Thursday’s (May 5) first semifinal in Washington, D.C. The win also capped a perfect 7-0 season for the Gators in BIG EAST play, marking the fourth time in program history they’ve finished a conference slate undefeated. Florida finishes the regular season 16-1 overall, including a 10-1 mark at home. A win in the club’s first BIG EAST Tournament match would tie the 2013 team for the best 18-game start in program history. As far as the game itself, a close 6-4 affair at halftime turned into a UF rout in the closing 30 minutes. The Gators scored seven consecutive goals in the second frame, with the final tally coming from Devon Schneider at the 2:14 mark. UConn’s other four goals all came in the final 1:51 of regulation. Junior Sammi Burgess, redshirt senior Nicole Graziano, and freshman Lindsey Rondbeck led the Gators with three goals apiece. Burgess added two assists and posted a game-high five points. Graziano’s third goal, which came at the 5:12 mark of the second half, marked the 100th of her career and made her the sixth Gator in school history to hit that mark. Prior to the game, Florida honored its senior class, which boasts a 67-13 record (.838), and have won a conference title and competed in the NCAA Tournament every year of their careers. THE RECORDS No. 2 Florida: 16-1, 7-0 BIG EAST UConn: 12-3, 6-1 BIG EAST NUMBERS OF NOTE
  • 100: career goals for redshirt senior Nicole Graziano, who became just the sixth player in UF history to hit the century mark
  • 69: all-time home wins for the No. 2 Gators with Sunday’s victory over UConn. Florida improved to 69-9 all-time at The Diz
  • 21: consecutive games with a point for junior Sammi Burgess, who had a hat trick for a second consecutive games. Burgess has scored a goal in 15 of Florida’s 17 games this season
  • 16: straight games with a goal for senior Nicole Graziano. Since March 6, Graziano has led UF in scoring with 29 goals and 37 points through the stretch
  • 7: straight wins for Florida since falling to Maryland on March 19. The Gators have put together the program’s fourth undefeated conference season in program history (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016) and their first in BIG EAST play
  • 6: Florida’s sixth regular season conference title in the program’s seven-year history, as it won four consecutive ALC titles from 2011-14 and back-to-back BIG EAST crowns in 2015 and 2016
    • This is the first outright BIG EAST regulars season title for the Gators, as it shared the championship with Georgetown last season
  • 5: conference titles for the Florida athletics program through the 2015-16 academic year (soccer, men’s swimming & diving, gymnastics, women’s tennis & lacrosse)
  • 4: Florida became the fourth team in BIG EAST women’s lacrosse since 2001 to go undefeated in league play.  Georgetown (2001-06, 2010), Syracuse (2008, 2010, 2013) and Louisville (2014) have all had undefeated seasons in the conference since 2001
  • 4: straight home wins for the Orange and Blue
  • 3: senior goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox is a triplet with two brothers. The trio has an older brother, and Wilcox’s three brothers surprised her on Senior Day by singing the National Anthem prior to the Gators-Huskies tilt
  • 2: straight BIG EAST Tournament appearance for the Gators, who clinched a spot in the four-team tournament with the win at Villanova on April 16
O’LEARY ANALYSIS Opening Statement… “The focus was on us as a team. We certainly came out ready to play. Credit UConn; they had a solid first half, keeping us on our heels. We had 20 shots in the first half and their goalie came up huge. Things to work on, obviously a little bit better shot selection, but credit UConn’s goalie; she was phenomenal today.” On how big Nicole Graziano‘s goal with four seconds left in the first half was… “Really critical. Going into halftime with a two-goal lead, versus a one-goal lead, it gives you some buffer room coming out of the locker room.’ On how it feels to end this regular season on a better note than the Gators did in 2015… “It’s fantastic. It’s a great tribute to these seniors. It’s something for them to remember forever. They won the BIG EAST regular season championship, and it’s one of the many accolades to add to their list. I’m just really, really proud of this whole group. They competed, worked hard at practice leading up to this … we demanded a lot of them and they delivered.” On what it was like to be able to bring in the seniors at the end of the game… “It’s exciting. They’ve earned it. They’ve given this program four years of their lives. I thought it was only fitting they all end (it) on the field together. It was a great tribute to them.” On how great it is to go undefeated in conference play… “It was certainly one of our goals in the fall. Really excited with this group’s progress. Coming in (to the BIG EAST Tournament) undefeated is exciting.” WHAT THEY SAID Florida redshirt senior midfielder Nicole Graziano On today’s game plan… “I think we were able to get a lot of shots off. Crysti [Foote] put in a good game plan this week leading up to this game. So we did get a lot of shots. Some of them weren’t falling but the others were. So we just stayed focused and kept pushing.” On what opened things up in the second half… “We were being patient – not forcing to the center and not taking low opportunity shots. Defense got a lot of turnovers so that sparked the momentum on the offensive end. It was an overall team effort.” On whether she knew she was closing in on 100 goals… “Yes. People were telling me before the game. I don’t really care about individual stats. It didn’t matter – getting the win was the focus.” Florida senior defender Sydney DuPre On holding UConn scoreless until late in the second half and UF’s halftime adjustments… “We decided to stop swinging our sticks and move our feet. I think that was a big reason why. They have good 1v1 dodgers. We needed to get low and move with our feet.” On what it felt like to end the game with the rest of the seniors on the field… “It felt amazing. This was such a big win for us and winning a conference title all four years. This just capped it off.” Florida junior attacker Sammi Burgess On holding UConn scoreless until late in the second half… Our defense is outstanding. They always have been. It motivates us on the offensive end to get the ball and put in the back of the net.” On what was on the team’s mind today, as UF lost to UConn in the last game of its 2015 regular season… “We try to focus on us. That has been one of our big mottos this season – not to focus on the other team, not to focus on the past but to be in the present and be a part of this team. I think we did a really good job of coming out, going hard and finishing really strong.” UP NEXT The Orange and Blue will enjoy a short break before competition in the BIG EAST Tournament May 5-7 at Georgetown’s Cooper Field. The Gators secured the No. 1 overall seed in the BIG EAST Tournament and solidified a spot in the first semifinal Thursday, May 5, in Washington, D.C. Both the Gators and Huskies had already clinched their spots in the four-team field prior to today.