Syracuse eliminates Florida lacrosse from NCAA Tournament for second-straight season

With revenge on their minds and a national title still standing as their primary goal, No. 5 Florida Gators lacrosse entered the Carrier Dome on Saturday looking to oust the No. 4 Syracuse Orange from the 2013 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals and continue their run to the first national championship in program history. Instead, rather than take the first step towards the storybook ending that the senior class had hoped to achieve, Florida faltered against its burgeoning rival, falling 13-9 to a Syracuse team that has gotten the best of UF in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons.

The fact that the Gators (18-3) were forced to play on the home turf of the Orange (18-3) was purely a matter of seeding. That was not without controversy, however, as Florida was awarded the tournament’s No. 5 overall seed despite topping Syracuse 14-10 in a neutral site contest on March 2 and also registering victories over the teams that were handed the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the event.

Nevertheless, the Gators got the opportunity they wanted – to take down the Orange as a measure of revenge for a controversial come-from-behind victory just one year ago in the Final Four of the 2012 NCAA Tournament – but ultimately came up short.

Continue Reading » Syracuse eliminates Florida lacrosse from NCAA Tournament for second-straight season

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FOUR BITS: track, tennis, lacrosse, softball

1 » Neither the top-ranked men nor the third-ranked women were able to bring home a team title in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship for the Florida Gators, but the track & field program did conclude the four-day event with five individual titles. Sophomore Kyle Strawn started things off on Thursday by winning the SEC title in the men’s hammer throw; his championship toss went 66.90m/219-6 and also marked a personal best. Florida added a second individual SEC crown on Friday when redshirt freshman Jimmy Clark gutted out a tough 10,000 meters in 29:44.54 to win the Gators’ first title in the event since 1987. Though Florida went title-less on Saturday, the Gators added three on Sunday to close the event. UF swept the triple jump with senior Omar Craddock (16.46m/54-0) and sophomore Ciarra Brewer (13.85m/45-5.25) defending their 2012 titles by winning the men’s and women’s championships, respectively. Freshman Marija Vucenovic also got in on the fun by winning the women’s javelin with a throw of 51.30m/168-4.

The Florida men (123.00) finished second to Arkansas (152.50), while the UF women (106.00) placed fourth. The Gators were hoping to win the athletic program’s ninth SEC team title of the season but must instead settle for a school record-tying eight as the league’s 2012-13 season has officially come to a close.

2 » No. 1 Florida women’s tennis began competing in the 2013 NCAA Tournament over the weekend and swept both of its opponents, defeating the Marist Red Foxes and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 4-0 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Gators ran through the Red Foxes without dropping a single game, winning both doubles matches 8-0 and all three singles contests 6-0, 6-0. Georgia Tech was a tougher out for Florida but still went down rather easily as UF won the doubles point with 8-6 and 8-2 victories and took singles in short order. No. 1 senior Lauren Embree beat No. 98 Elizabeth Kilborn 6-0, 6-0 in her last home match, and No. 116 senior Caroline Hitimana led 6-1, 3-3 in her match but did not finish; both players were involved in victories that led to the doubles point. Embree received a standing ovation after he victory; she and Hitimana leave UF never having lost a team match (55-0) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. Action continues for Florida on Friday when it takes on Duke in a round of 16 match in Urbania, IL.

Read two more Gators news BITS (with an extra)…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: track, tennis, lacrosse, softball

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Questionable end to Florida-Syracuse lacrosse

Syracuse completed a monumental comeback against Florida in lacrosse on Friday in the Final Four of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, erasing a seven-goal deficit to tie the match with 30 seconds remaining in regulation and eventually winning 14-13 by scoring a goal in sudden death overtime.

However, before the Orange netted that game-winning goal, the Gators had a similar strike rescinded after referees were asked to look at the legality of the stick carried by Florida junior attacker Gabi Wiegand, the player who scored what might have been a game-winning goal with nine seconds left in the first overtime.

Referees determined that the lace on Wiegand’s stick was too deep and took the goal away, necessitating the sudden death scenario in which Syracuse senior midfielder Sarah Holden wound up scoring and winning the match for her team.

After Holden’s goal, UF responded just as SU did minutes earlier and asked the referees to look at her stick. It was determined that the depth of the lace on Holden’s stick was legal, the goal was allowed and the Orange went on to celebrate their victory.

But was Holden’s stick tampered with following her goal and before referees evaluated it?

In the video below, a replay of the goal that aired as the broadcast was about to end, it is obvious that another Syracuse player grabbed the stick out of Holden’s hand and tugged or pulled at it. Did she make an adjustment that turned an illegal stick into a legal one? Did she wind up doing nothing to the stick (or was it legal anyway)? That is unknown and not likely to be proven one way or another.

You be the judge.

Despite the actions that the video may or may not depict, a potentially missed illegal stick call is not to blame for the Gators’ heartbreaking loss on Friday. That responsibility goes to UF’s players who had a national championship game appearance within reach but faltered down the stretch and allowed SU to get back in and eventually win the match.

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Florida lacrosse collapses in 14-13 sudden death overtime loss to Syracuse in NCAA Final Four

A historic season for No. 1 Florida Gators lacrosse came to an end in devastating fashion on Friday as the team blew a seven-goal second-half lead and eventually fell 14-13 in sudden death overtime to the No. 4 Syracuse Orange in the Final Four of the 2012 NCAA Tournament at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook, NY.

Syracuse (19-3) topped Florida (19-3) in sudden death overtime for the second time this season with the Orange previously defeating the Gators 12-11 in Gainesville, FL on March 3. UF’s 15-match winning streak came to an end on Friday as did the team’s hopes for the program’s first national title.

Junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell got things started for Florida, scoring just over two minutes into the first half. Syracuse evened things up five minutes later and was dominating the proceedings a third of the way through the opening half by outshooting UF 10-2, leading 6-0 in ground balls and taking a 3-0 edge in draw controls.

Despite their advantages, the Orange was unable to capitalize early on. Gators junior attacker Gabi Wiegand and freshman M Shannon Gilroy scored consecutive goals 13 seconds apart to put Florida ahead 3-1, though Syracuse quickly answered back again to hold a short-lived single-goal deficit.

That is when Gilroy took over, scoring three-straight goals over the final 10:25 of the half, including one 15 seconds before the break, to give the Gators a 7-3 lead as the teams headed into the locker rooms.

The Orange had their chances late in the half but saw consecutive shots bang off the post. UF junior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher was also exceptional in the opening period, registering 10 saves on 18 shots and saving all three free position attempts she faced.

Meagher’s offense gave her an even larger cushion in the second half as junior A Caroline Chesterman scored 37 seconds into the period and Dashiell followed with a free position goal to increase Florida’s lead to 9-3.

The Gators continued their scoring onslaught with junior A Ashley Bruns getting on the board and Dashiell notching her third goal of the match (the team’s second hat trick) to extend UF’s advantage to a match-high seven goals. Dashiell soon matched Gilroy with her fourth score of the match, putting Florida up 12-5 with 17:15 remaining.

Not ready to go down without a fight, the Orange scored three-straight goals in under four minutes to get within four of their top-ranked opponent. Gilroy picked the perfect time to score her fifth goal of the evening, tossing it into the net with 7:19 left in the game to give the Gators back a five-goal lead at 13-8.

However, Syracuse completely erased Florida’s five-goal advantage, tying the match at 13 by extending their scoring run to 8-1 to end the second half. The Gators allowed the game-tying goal with just 30 seconds remaining while down two women due to a pair of yellow cards being assessed inside the last minute of regulation.

After both teams went scoreless in the first three minutes of overtime, Florida won a draw control and stalled for approximately two minutes in order to get the final shot of the period. Wiegand eventually took that shot and scored with nine seconds remaining, but the goal was rescinded due to her scoring with an illegal stick.

The match then went into sudden death overtime with the first goal scored sending that respective team into the national title game. The Orange won the draw control and, following a timeout, scored the game-winning goal to send the Gators home for good.

Meagher, after registering 10 saves on 18 first-half shots, only notched five more over the duration of the contest. Syracuse outshot Florida 43-24 and held a 19-6 advantage on ground balls Friday evening.

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SIX BITS: Walker, softball, Nelson, gym, lax

1 » Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker was honored on Senior Day before Sunday’s game. Because the game aired on CBS and the broadcast began following the ceremony, most fans did not get to see Walker enter the court with his mother to a loud ovation from his fans. The entire clip, including the video highlight package of some of Walker’s best plays in orange and blue, can be viewed below courtesy of GatorVision.tv:

2 » No. 3 Florida softball improved to 19-1 on the season and extended their winning streak to nine games after winning six contests from Thursday-Sunday by a combined score of 53-1. UF defeated Eastern Michigan 2-1 in extra innings on Thursday before beginning the Lipton Invitational, which the team hosted in Gainesville, FL. The Gators again beat EMU on Friday (16-0) and followed that up with a thrashing of Gardner-Webb (9-0) in the evening. Florida beat GWU a second time on Saturday (14-0), adding a win against Tennessee State (8-0) later that afternoon and a victory over Campbell (4-0) on Sunday. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (10-0) earned two wins striking out 19 batters and giving up one earned run in 17.0 innings (she also made one relief appearance). Freshmen RHPs Alyssa Bache (3-0) and Lauren Haeger (6-1) each added two victories with neither giving up a single run and the latter mowing down 15 batters in 10.0 innings. The Gators’ offense was impressive all weekend long, but two players in particular stood out for their powerful performances. Senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie went 12/20 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, 11 runs and three stolen bases over the six games, and junior catcher Kelsey Horton matched her with four dingers of her own alog with 14 RBIs, six runs and three walks. UF will play five road games this week including two against Mississippi State and three at Tennessee.

3 » It is looking more and more like Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson will be wearing different colors in 2012. With no reports of negotiations for an extension occurring between Nelson and Cincinnati brass, the local media expects that he will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent next week. Should that occur, it is believed that the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans will make a run at him. The Dolphins in particular look like a promising landing spot for Nelson considering former Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle, who helped resurrect Nelson’s career in Cincinnati, was hired as Miami’s new defensive coordinator after the season.

4 » No. 1 Florida gymnastics (10-1) earned a nail-biting victory on the road Sunday against the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2). The Gators defeated the Cornhuskers 196.95-196.825, earning two individual event victories while only winning one of the four overall events. junior Ashanée Dickerson and sophomore Alaina Johnson each won the vault with a score of 9.90, while junior Marissa King took home the balance beam victory with a 9.925 mark. Florida’s sizable win in the beam (49.325-48.950) was enough to push them past Nebraska in the overall score. UF will take on No. 7 Utah in their regular season finale on Senior Night on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m.

5 » No. 4 Gators lacrosse (4-2) dropped their second game to a top-10 ranked opponent this season, falling 12-11 in double overtime to the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (2-2) at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Behind 6-4 at the half, Florida rallied over the final three minutes of the second period, scoring three-straight goals to knot the contest at 10 as the whistle sounded. SU got on the board first in overtime, but UF matched their visitors again to force a sudden death second overtime period. The Orange did not take long to make their move, scoring at 5:05 to end the game. Junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell led the Gators with three goals (including the tying score in the first overtime), an assist, six draw controls and five ground balls (a season high for the team), while junior attacker Kitty Cullen had an off game with only one goal in 10 shots. Despite scoring fewer goals than their opponent, Florida had more shots than Syracuse (39-26) and committed fewer turnovers (9-20). UF is scheduled to face Georgetown on the road Wednesday before returning home to host Temple on Saturday.

6 » Both involved in close matches, No. 15 Gators women’s tennis and No. 10 Florida men’s tennis wound up with different outcomes when taking on the No. 5/6 Georgia Bulldogs’ women’s and men’s squads over the weekend. Florida’s women improved to 8-1 by taking down Georgia 4-3 on the road. The Gators won two of three matches to earn the doubles point with victories from the No. 13 pairing of junior Allie Will and sophomore Sofie Oyen and the No. 31 duo of junior Lauren Embree and senior Joanna Mather. No. 1 Will fell in singles action to No. 11 Chelsey Gillickson, but No. 18 Mather, No. 23 Embree and No. 39 Oyen were all victorious to earn the overall win.

Florida’s men rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to tie things up with Georgia 3-3 but simply could not complete the comeback victory. The Bulldogs won the doubles point by taking down two of the three ranked duos for the Gators. The No. 8 pairing of junior Billy Federhofer and senior Nassim Slilam won their match, but the No. 18 duo of junior Tripper Carleton and sophomore Spencer Newman and the No. 43 team of sophomore Andrew Butz and junior Bob van Overbeek both fell 8-4. Singles wins by Carleton, Slilam and sophomore Michael Alford tied the match, but No. 51 van Overbeek fell to No. 3 Wil Spencer 6-7(4), 6-0, 7-5 in a final that lasted 2:28.

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Allen’s Alley: Gators have room for improvement

A four-year member of the Florida Gators basketball program under head coach Billy Donovan, former forward Adam Allen – a four-star recruit coming out of Milton High School – was forced to retire due to multiple knee surgeries. No longer with the team, he has joined OGGOA as a basketball columnist and will provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2011-12 season.

Friday night Florida was hoping to snag a big road win at the undefeated No. 3 Syracuse Orange without junior starting forward Erik Murphy but fell short in two primary areas – turnovers and rebounding.

Turnovers have doomed the Gators in recent memory and proved to once again be a factor in their latest big game. The fact is: It’s nearly impossible to go on the road against a top 10 team and expect to win when you cough the ball up 20 or more times.

Murphy’s absence and sophomore center Patric Young only being able to play 25 minutes (mostly in the second half) because of foul trouble had a large impact on the game in the rebounding and low post scoring departments.

Sophomore F Will Yeguete played well but, despite his great effort and energy, could only do so much standing 6’6” against the length and size of the Orange’s front line.

Syracuse’s zone caused problems for Florida all night. The whole idea of SU’s patented 2-3 is to get teams out of their comfort zone and bait them into settling for shots that may appear to be the best available. Even when UF did hit tough treys, it simply gave the team false hope because the Orange know teams won’t be able to make enough challenged threes over the course of 40 minutes to beat them.

Additionally, with Murphy being out, the Gators didn’t have a true threat in the high post and a big man who can space the floor and knock down shots. When UF stopped getting the ball to the high post and baseline on offense, the team got stagnant.

Florida settled for setting ball screens on the guard at the top of the zone and kicking to the wings, which did not force Syracuse’s back end to work at all. Even as out of rhythm as the Gators may have seemed on offense, UF would have been in a great position to win the game if the players simply took better care of the ball.

Read the rest of this edition of Allen’s Alley…after the break!
Continue Reading » Allen’s Alley: Gators have room for improvement

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12/2: Florida at Syracuse post-game notes

The No. 9/10 Florida Gators fell on the road to the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange 72-68 Friday evening at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY as part of the 2011 Big East-SEC Challenge. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and the players provided their thoughts on the team’s second loss to a top-five ranked opponent this year.

TURNOVERS, POOR REBOUNDING PROVIDING EXTRA CHANCES

Florida worked hard on the defensive end of the floor Friday night, but the Gators’ 20 turnovers gave the Orange a number of additional opportunities to score that wound up being one of the main differences in the game. Syracuse took seven more shots and 10 more free throw attempts on the evening than Florida, which made up for the fact that SU shot worse both from the field and beyond the arc.

After the game, UF’s players took the blame for these miscues, noting that they resulted from carelessness rather than their opponent’s effort.

“That’s a good defense but those turnovers are our turnovers. They’re on us,” junior guard Kenny Boynton admitted.

The Orange were also the first team to outrebound the Gators this season, grabbing seven more boards and five additional rebounds off the offensive glass. Not only did Syracuse have a size advantage, they worked harder than Florida to this end and took a few directly out of their opponent’s hands.

“They did a good job of getting rebounds and getting out on their break,” senior point guard Erving Walker said. “That’s not an easy zone to play against, but we still had some good looks at the basket and actually shot a good percentage in the second half. We just turned the ball over up too much and gave up too many easy baskets.”

MISSING IN ACTION

Despite playing six minutes in the first half, redshirt junior G Mike Rosario did not return to the court in the latter portion of the game and was benched by Donovan for the entire second half. Rosario took two three-pointers in his six minutes on the court (airballing one), hit two free throws, committed a foul and turned the ball over once.

“The last couple days, I think emotionally, he just hasn’t been there,” Donovan said after the game about Rosario’s limited playing time. “I tried to use him a little bit and he just did not seem himself.

“It was more my decision not to play him. I actually felt like we needed defense because I knew we were going to have a hard time scoring with Patric [Young] off the floor.”

The team’s sophomore starting center, Young picked up two early fouls and only played 25 minutes of the game with the majority of that time coming in the second half. His absence limited the Gators offensively in the early portion of the game and hurt Florida’s ability to get penetration and force Syracuse’s zone to defend honestly.

Also absent from the game was junior forward Erik Murphy (knee), whose 6’10” frame and zone-stretching jump shot would have been a welcome addition. At any given point in the contest, UF was playing without two of its six best players (Murphy and Young in the first half, Murphy and Rosario in the second half).

Post-game quotes courtesy of UF contributing writer Chris Harry.

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No. 3 Orange squeeze past No. 9 Gators 72-68

Without one starter the whole game and their sixth man the entire second half, No. 9 Florida Gators (5-2) basketball fell 72-68 Friday night on the road to the No. 3 Syracuse Orange (8-0) in the fifth game of the 2011 Big East/SEC Challenge at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.

A pair of junior guards led their respective teams in scoring on Friday. Florida’s Kenny Boynton, who started slow but caught fire in the second half, finished with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting (4-for-10 from downtown), while Brandon Triche led Syracuse with 20 points and three assists.

The Gators and Orange were tied at 14 midway through the first half thanks to senior point guard Erving Walker connecting on his first two three-pointers and center Fab Melo hitting his first three shots (two dunks).

Florida sophomore C Patric Young was forced to sit the majority of the first half after picking up a pair of early fouls and watched as reserves took his spot in the frontcourt.

Neither team had much of an advantage early on until Syracuse used a 6-0 run to jump ahead 31-25 with the half winding down. UF hit a jumper to reduce their deficit to four but missed a pair of treys at the end of the half.

Despite hitting some baskets early, Florida shot just 37 percent from the field in the first half and a paltry 21.4 percent from downtown. UF and SU each turned the ball over 10 times with Syracuse taking an early 18-11 (7-4 offensive) advantage on the boards. The Orange were also an inefficient 10 percent from three but connected on 43.3 percent of their attempts from the floor.

After another slow start to the second half, Syracuse took a game-high nine-point lead thanks to another 6-0 run. Florida counted with an 11-2 run of their own capped by a three from Boynton to tie the contest at 41.

Boynton would hit three-straight shots from downtown to give the Gators a 49-46 advantage, but the Orange countered by outscoring their opponent 16-4 and retaking their nine-point lead down a stretch in which Florida turned the ball over five times.

Syracuse held on to their lead with the clock winding down, though Walker hit a trey at the buzzer to make UF’s final deficit just four points.

Walker finished second for the Gators with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting (5-for-9 from downtown) and notched a team-high five assists. Sophomore forward Will Yeguete added 10 points, seven boards and four dimes, while freshman G Bradley Beal grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds but scored just seven points. He hit just 2-of-9 shots from the field and was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Two other Orange players scored double-digits with G Scoop Jardine posting 16 points and seven assists and F Kris Joseph adding 14 points and five boards (four offensive).

Syracuse outrebounded Florida 34-27 (14-9) on the evening, marking the first time an opponent has grabbed more boards than the Gators this season. UF turned the ball over 20 times (10 in each half) and made just 9-of-26 threes. Florida had converted 10 or more treys in all six games played prior to Friday night.

The Orange was called for goaltending three times during the contest, and Gators redshirt junior G Mike Rosario did not play at all in the second half.

Both of Florida’s losses this season have been by single digits to No. 3 ranked opponents on the road, and the Gators hope to rebound from this defeat when they host Arizona on Wednesday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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