during the Gators' game against the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays on Friday, May 10, 2019 at UNC Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC / UAA Communications photo by Andy Mead

Florida Lacrosse Takes on Mercer in NCAA Tournament

The sixth seed Florida Gators lacrosse team (16-2) takes on the Mercer Bears (7-7) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Florida will host the Bears from Donald R. Dizney Stadium first draw starts at 4 p.m. on Friday. This will be the first time both teams meet in team history.

Florida Gators

Florida is coming off their seventh straight tournament championship and their eighth overall in Gators lacrosse history. The Gators are 8-9 in the NCAA tournament.

Senior midfielder Shannon Kavanagh leads the team in points (84) and goals (68). She should be the leading charge in developing the offense for the Gators, alongside senior attacker Brianna Harris who leads the team in assists (37). Kavanagh also leads the team in draw controls with 89.

https://twitter.com/GatorsLAX/status/1392811871418335236

Senior defender Kaitlyn Dabkowski will be a dominant force on the defensive end as she leads the team in caused turnovers with 31. In addition, freshman goalie Sarah Reznick leads the team in saves with 132 this season.

Florida should have the advantage over the Bears as the Gators are favored in multiple categories.

Gators Lacrosse head coach Amanda O’Leary gave her thoughts on the matchup against Mercer:

https://twitter.com/GatorsLAX/status/1392962862054707204

Mercer Bears

Mercer entered the tournament after winning their third consecutive Southern Conference title. They upset the No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina and the No. 1 seed Furman Paladins.

The Bears are 0-2 this season against ranked opponents and have a 7-7 overall record. Erin Degnan controls the draw circle for the Bears, coming up with 41 draws this season.

On the offensive end, six Bears have scored more than 20 points. Hailey Rhatigan (44 goals, 14 assists), Lily Morin (36 goals, 4 assists), Maddi Koury (15 goals, 17 assists), Shannon Urey (20 goals, 9 assists), Eva Thorn (19 goals , 8 assists) and Chloe Schaeffer (18 goals, 9 assists).

Mercer should have a great offensive attack against a tough competitor in the Gators defense Friday afternoon. Goalie Iseabal Cryne leads the team in saves with 103. Cryne will have a challenge against a dominant Florida offense that’s great at getting the ball in the net.

They average 8.57 caused turnovers per game. Four Mercer players have recorded 10 caused turnovers this season. Hailey Rhatigan (14), Ainsley Malamala (13), Lily Morin (10) and Kileigh Casey (10).

NCAA Second Round

The winners of this matchup will face Jacksonville University or Vanderbilt on Sunday at 12 p.m.

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