Lacrosse
Gators Lacrosse star Emma LoPinto celebration with teamattes after goal. Photo credit UAA

The Gator Lacrosse Squad’s Tournament Journey

Regular Season Background

The Gator lacrosse squad’s tournament journey to the NCAA championship started with big dreams and aspirations. Last year the squad was in the tournament and couldn’t get past the quarter-finals with a devastating loss to Syracuse.

This season has been an excellent show of the team’s resolve and determination to get back to the championship. During the regular season, the Gators went 15-4, winning all five of their conference matchups. They also haven’t lost a game since the beginning of March and are on a 13-game winning streak.

The Gators go into this tournament as the team with a thirst for a championship. While the Gators are ranked seventh in the division, there are only three other ranked teams of the 13 contending teams. Florida faces off against Mercer University in the first round of the championship. If they win that game, they need only two more wins for the title. The gators are in reaching distance from an NCAA championship.

Mandy O’Leary

We interviewed the head coach Mandy O’Leary about her and the team’s thoughts and feelings regarding the upcoming tournament.

O’Leary spoke on how the team is preparing for the tournament and how the girls give it their “A game” at every practice. When asked if she was happy with the team’s recent momentum, O’Leary chuckled and said, ” Ya, absolutely, the team has really come on strong the last couple of months, so we’re excited where we are and having the opportunity to host the NCAA is really exciting.” This isn’t surprising, considering they are coming fresh off of an SEC championship.

 

O’Leary explained that the team is riding high on their season’s accomplishments going into the tournament. She says it’s a balance of “riding momentum,” staying focused, and not letting their record or winning streak affect their game plan.

“…It’s a clean slate. Everybody is going into the NCAA tournament zero and zero, and it’s obviously win and advance, so lose and go home,” O’Leary said.

When asked about their first match-up with Mercer and how the squad has beaten them this season already, O’Leary was humble and explained that the team could have improved significantly and would look at the game like any other.

Gator Lacrosse Squad Tournament Journey

Mercer went 14-4 on the season, one of their only losses being against the Gators. Mercer is also riding momentum into this tournament as they are on a three-game win streak. The squad went 8-1 in their conference and shaped up their record on the back end of this season. As I said previously, the Gators have faced Mercer this season and won, but don’t want that undermining their mental during the tournament. But it should be said they didn’t just win. The squad completely dominated them 19-5.

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