Unfinished business for Florida lacrosse

Florida Gators Lacrosse has some unfinished business to tend to this weekend in Syracuse as they travel to play the Orange in the NCAA Quarterfinals in the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Florida has been on a tear in 2013, boasting an 18-2 record in the regular season, an ALC regular season title and ALC Tournament Championship appearance. Florida defeated Syracuse 14-10 in the Orange Bowl Classic this season and the Gators are coming off of a 16-5 win over Denver just last weekend. But that doesn’t mean that this team, led by ALC Coach of the Year Amanda O’Leary, forgot how their season was derailed last year.

Florida won the ALC regular season title for the second year in a row in 2012 by upsetting Northwestern 8-7 in Evanston in their only loss of the regular season. The Gators rode that momentum back to Gainesville, where they captured their first ALC Tournament Championship in the program’s third year of existence, beating Northwestern again, 14-7. Gators fans had high hopes as the team flew through the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, beating Albany 6-4 and Penn State 15-2 in Gainesville.

Things were setting up nicely for another Florida-Northwestern rematch for the national championship, a game that obviously favored the Gators. The only team that stood in Florida’s way was Syracuse – the Orange had delivered a crushing 12-11 overtime loss to the Gators in Gainesville earlier in 2012.

Florida led Syracuse 7-3 at the half in Stony Brook, but the Orange rallied to score 10 goals in the second half, including five straight to end the game, to tie the Gators at 13 and send the Final Four game into overtime. Again. After five scoreless minutes, the teams headed into a second overtime, where Syracuse’s Sarah Holden scored her fourth and final goal of the day to deliver Florida’s second overtime loss to the Orange in 2012.

The Gators have been driven ever since that loss in Stony Brook to make this season count. The thirteen seniors on the team let it be known that they had “unfinished business” this season, and the postseason could not have unfolded more perfectly for the Gators to finish that business;

Florida (18-2) plays Syracuse (17-3) in the Gators’ first-ever game indoors on Saturday afternoon in their third-straight Elite Eight appearance, with the victor advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Florida will look to its five All-Americans, including ALC Offensive Player of the Year Kitty Cullen, ALC Goalie of the Year Mikey Meagher, and ALC Defensive Player of the Year Sam Farrell, to win the game that slipped from their fingertips last year and secure a trip to Villanova for the NCAA Semifinals, where the winner of the No. 1 overall seed and undefeated Maryland vs. Duke (14-5) game awaits.