With football and basketball both in the spotlight and Florida Gators gymnastics winning a third straight NCAA National Championship last week, it was easy to overlook two other tremendous accomplishments made by Gators athletic programs in the form of regular-season league titles won this month.
Two weeks ago, Florida women’s tennis captured the Southeastern Conference title with a 4-0 win in its regular-season home finale against Tennessee at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Florida.
UF improved to 20-2 (12-1 SEC) with its 10th sweep of the season but was not as successful in the 2015 SEC Tournament , falling 4-2 to No. 9 Vanderbilt in the semifinals after taking down No. 22 Ole Miss to open the event. It is the second straight year that Florida failed to win the SEC Tournament after dominating the event from 2010-13.
Nevertheless, the Gators will kick off the NCAA Tournament on May 9 ranked as the No. 3 team in the nation. They will be led by Brooke Austin, the first freshman in program history to sweep the SEC Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year awards in the same season. She is the second Florida tennis player – and second athlete in league history – to win SEC Player of the Year as a freshman (Allie Will).
Joining Austin on the All-SEC first team were freshman Josie Kuhlman and junior Brianna Morgan. Sophomore Kourtney Keegan earned a second-team nod, and Kuhlman joined Austin on the SEC All-Freshman team.
Gators lacrosse made its presence known during its inaugural season in the Big East, earning the league’s regular-season title with a program-high 16 players scoring in a dominant 20-1 win over Cincinnati at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville.
Florida’s up-and-down season included four losses (three straight) in its first 10 games, but the Gators rebounded to open their first Big East schedule with six consecutive victories and the regular-season championship, UF’s fifth such crown in as many seasons (four straight in the now-defunct American Lacrosse Conference).
Though Florida fell to UConn 11-10 in its finale, the No. 13 Gators will return to Storrs, Connecticut, on April 30 to compete in the 2015 Big East Tournament.
Midfielders senior Shannon Gilroy and sophomore Mollie Stevens have led the way for Florida this season, leading the team with 59 and 33 goals, respectively. Gilroy, the nation’s leader in points (80), has been named one of 25 finalists for the 2015 Tewaaraton Award, given annually to the country’s best lacrosse players.