Florida’s 14-10 regular season win over Syracuse in the Orange Bowl Classic in March quickly became old news in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. No. 5 Florida (18-3) met their match in the NCAA Quarterfinals as No. 4 Syracuse (18-3) ousted the Gators from the postseason for the second year in a row with another second half surge, leading to a 13-9 victory for the Orange.
The Gators went into the game with high hopes and the desire to finish what they started last year when their season came to an abrupt end in a double overtime loss to Syracuse. The game was tied at 4 after the first 30 minutes of play, but the Orange never let up, forcing All-American Mikey Meager to a career-high 12 saves and the eventual edge as the clock wound down on the Elite Eight game and Florida’s last of the season.
Saturday also marked the last game that the inaugural class of Florida Lacrosse will play in Orange and Blue. Eleven of the thirteen seniors have been Gators since the program’s start, many transferring from elite schools, in order to create something special at Florida. Thirteen seniors are leaving a program they built to last – Florida has the foundation to be one of the best lacrosse teams in the country for years to come.
It took the Gators less than these past four years to capture fans’ hearts and become one of the elite programs in the country, led by two-time ALC Coach of the Year Amanda O’Leary. This class led the Gators to 3 regular season ALC Championships, 1 ALC Tournament Championship, 3 NCAA Tournament appearances, All-American honors and national praise as they notched victories over storied programs such as Northwestern and Penn State.
And now it’s time to say goodbye to 13 players who have done more than any Gators’ fan thought possible in just four years at the University of Florida. The seniors, always fan favorites, will be missed dearly on hot and rainy spring days in Donald R. Dizney Stadium, but hope remains as Gainesville’s facilities, coaching staff, and fans continue to attract some of the best players in the country to spend the next four years of their lives as Gators in hopes of bringing a championship trophy to Gainesville.