Special report on the Florida Gators lacrosse team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The sixth-seeded Florida lacrosse team used a high-powered offensive attack to cruise past the Mercer Bears 23-5 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Gators improve to 17-2 on the season, while the Mercer Bears ended their 2021 campaign with a 7-8 record overall. This is the seventh time in 12 seasons that UF has won at least 17 games, just two off the program record of 19 (2012).
Florida moved to 9-9 in NCAA Tournament play with the win and moved to 1-0 all-time against Mercer.
The Gators’ offense was firing against the Bears, scoring 23 goals on the evening – the third-best total in program history.
Brianna Harris and Shannon Kavanagh led Florida on the offensive front, each tallying five goals in the game. Grace Haus added four of her own in the win, while Paisley Eagan and Emily Hellereach found the back of the cage twice in the game.
Maggi Hall posted a career-best four assists on the evening, while Harris and Kavanagh dished out three and two helpers, respectively. Pavinelli and Jill Quigley each recorded one assist of their own in the game.
The Gators dominated the draw circle, winning 25-of-27 on the evening – the second-highest total in program history (26). Kavanagh set a new program record for draw controls in a game, tallying 16. That surpassed the previous record of 14 by two.
Florida’s defense lived up to its nationally-ranked name, holding the Bears to five goals in the game. In the first 37 minutes of the game, the Gators held Mercer to just one goal. Harris and Liz Harrison each recorded a caused turnover in the matchup.
Bresnahan, Hall, Harris and Kavanagh each registered a team-high two groundballs in the game.
The Gators take on the winner of Jacksonville/Vanderbilt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at The Diz. Opening draw is slated for 12 p.m. on ESPN3 and the game can also be heard on FloridaGators.com/watch.
6-seed Florida (17-2, 10-0 AAC)
Mercer (7-8, 2-2 SoCon)
How It Happened
- The Gators got out to the quick start, opening the game on a 5-0 run over the span of less than six minutes to force a Mercer timeout.
- Paisley Eagan posted back-to-back scores to get the run started for Florida, with the first coming off a free-position goal and the second coming on a feed from Danielle Pavinelli.
- Pavinelli found the back of the cage herself, putting Florida up 3-0 with 25:25 left in the first half. Grace Haus scored on a man-up opportunity less than 60 seconds later, while Brianna Harris converted on a free-position attempt to force the timeout from the Bears.
- Out of the break, the Gators continued to roll, as Haus netted her second goal of the day to kick off another run for Florida – this time a 6-0 spurt.
- Shelton Sawers tallied her first goal of the day on a pass from Maggi Hall, followed by back-to-back scores from Kavanagh and Harris to put Florida up 9-0.
- Harris grabbed her hat trick with 21:50 remaining in the game, putting Florida up 10 goals and give the Gators a running clock.
- The run was closed out by Kavanagh’s second goal of the day with 19:20 remaining in the first half. Mercer got on the board at the 15:59 in the first half, but Florida once again strung together a seven-goal run to take the 18-1 lead into the locker room.
- Kavanagh notched a hat trick to kick off the run, scoring on a pass from Harris. Haus followed with her third goal of the day as well, giving Florida the 13-1 lead with 12:25 left in the frame.
- In the final 10:39 of the first, the Gators scored five times, coming from the sticks of Harris, Kassidy Bresnahan, Haus, Emerson Cabrera and Harris again to take the commanding 17-goal lead into halftime.
- Coming out of the locker room, the Gators tallied three-straight goals – back-to-back scores from Kavanagh, followed by Emily Heller finding the back of the cage on a pass from Harris.
- Mercer scored its first goal of the second half with 19:58 remaining in the game, but Heller converted on an unassisted score to put Florida up 22-2.
- The Bears notched back-to-back scores to pull within 18, but Janine Suris scored her first of the day with 5:25 remaining to give Florida its third-highest scoring production total in program history. Mercer scored in the final 2:30 of the game, but Florida held on for the 23-5 victory.
- The Gators improve to 9-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament
- Florida has now won at least 17 games in seven seasons during the 12-year history of the program
- The Gators are 121-5 (.960) against teams not ranked in the IWLCA Top-25 Poll
- Florida owns an impressive 107-19 (.849) record in the confines of Donald R. Dizney Stadium
- When scoring 14 goals, the Gators are 150-2 (.987)
- With her seven points today, Kavanagh moved into third place in career points, surpassing Ashley Bruns (284)
- With her eight points today, Brianna Harris is now just one away from becoming the 10th Gator to score 200 in a career
- Streaking: Shannon Kavanagh’s streak of 46 consecutive games with a goal is the longest in program history
- Streaking: Kavanagh also has a streak of 46 consecutive games with a point – the second-longest streak in program history
- Streaking: Brianna Harris has recorded a point in 39-straight games, tied for the fifth-longest streak in program history
- Streaking: Harris has also registered an assist in 13-straight games, the second-longest streak in program history
- (Streaking: Kaitlyn Dabkowski has tallied a groundball in 14 consecutive games, tied for the fifth-longest streak in program history
- Kavanagh collected a career-best 16 draw controls
- Haus set a new career high with two draw controls
- Hall notched a new career best with four assists
- Sawers tied her career best with one goal
- Cabrera tied her career high with one assist
- Suris tied her career best marks in goals (1), points (1) and shots (1)
- Lortz posted her first career ground ball, setting a new career high (1)
- Schluederberg match her career best with one shot
- “Really proud of this group. As you said they really came out strong out of the lockeroom and were really fired up. I thought we connected really well. Shannon (Kavanagh) did a fantastic job off of the draw to give us possession and then offensively we were running on all cylinders. That was awesome to see. We shared the ball and got a lot of different scorers and then obviously defensively they held their own. I thought Sarah (Reznick) came up with some big saves. So I think overall it was just a fantastic effort.”
- The Gators take on the winner of Jacksonville/Vanderbilt in the second round on Sunday
- Opening draw is slated for 12 p.m. at Donald R. Dizney Stadium
- The game will air on ESPN3 and can be heard at FloridaGators.com/watch