Florida Gators lacrosse defeats Michigan with late goal

Special report on Florida Gators lacrosse team

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sophomore Shayna Pirreca put the Gators on her back with three straight goals in just over a minute to knot No. 7 Florida and Michigan at 11-11 with 4:34 remaining in Saturday's Gators-Wolverines clash at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. With 10 seconds on the clock and a free-position attempt, Pirreca dished the ball to junior Sammi Burgess for the game-winning goal and the 12-11 final in favor of the Orange and Blue.

Florida improved to 2-0 on the young season and 3-0 all-time against Michigan with the thrilling finale. Gator athletics went 2-0 against Michigan Saturday after the No. 1 softball Gators blanked the Wolverines in Tampa. Pirreca finished the afternoon with a career-high six points with four goals and two assists. Burgess and fellow junior Mollie Stevens each netted three scores to lead the way for the Orange and Blue offensively.

After a back-and-forth affair through the first period and an early second half Stevens goal for the 8-5 Gators lead, a feisty Wolverines squad scored six unanswered goals for an 11-8 advantage. Cue Pirreca's heroics.

On the defensive end, junior Taylor Bresnahan scooped up a career-tying four ground balls, caused two turnovers and scored in her second straight game. Florida was aggressive with 17 ground balls to Michigan's 11 and senior goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox moved to 2-0 and added her eighth straight game with at least one save.

Florida: 2-0
Michigan: 1-1


*         98: wins for Florida head coach Amanda O'Leary at the helm of the Gator program. O'Leary, the fifth-winningest active Division I coach in the country, is now just two wins shy of her 100th victory at Florida

*         30: minutes at goalie each for senior Mary-Sean Wilcox and freshman Haley Hicklen, the second straight game Florida has split time between the duo with Wilcox starting and Hicklen taking over in the second period

*         27: straight games with a goal for junior Mollie Stevens, who had three against the Wolverines Saturday. Stevens additionally added a career-tying three draw controls against Michigan

*         5: Gators scored against Michigan, marking the second straight game five or more Gators have netted a goal. Eight players scored in UF's season-opener against No. 13 Loyola. Redshirt senior Nicole Graziano scored her first goal of 2016 against UM

*         4: goals scored for the Gators in the last five minutes, 49 seconds of regulation Saturday

*         3: consecutive wins for Florida against Michigan. The Gators are 3-0 all-time against the Wolverines and have played Michigan each year of UM's young history

"Michigan played a phenomenal game. I'm really proud of the effort we put in at the end, but credit Michigan with a great game plan. It was a tough win, we gutted it out. We came out with a victory and that's something, at this point, that we'll take. There is a lot to learn from this game and we talked about that afterwards. We need to be a little bit smarter and more mentally prepared moving forward."

On the last play:
"Honestly it was a blur, but when I saw Sammi Burgess sitting there, there was no one else I would trust more to take that shot. She did an amazing job, she handled the pressure."

On being down early but rallying for the win:
"I think it was great because we got to feel what it is like to be down in a game. We got to rally together, we didn't get down on ourselves or frustrated...we were able to build each other up and stay positive through the entire game."

On the importance of spreading the Gators scoring around this season:
"It's very important. In years past we would have a go-to player and we'd put the game in their hands almost every single game. It's great this year because the defense doesn't know who is going to get the ball, they don't know who is going to take that last shot. It is a pleasure to play with the best teammates, the best players in the country. I'm so grateful for them."

The Orange and Blue will continue a three-game home stand to open the 2016 season. Florida will host the Wales National Team in Thursday action Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. for a friendly before its first road trip to No. 2 North Carolina Feb. 20.
Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.