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Women’s lacrosse upset after season-ending loss to Florida – The Cavalier Daily

Virginia faced Florida on Sunday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Klöckner Stadium. The No. 5 seed Cavaliers (15-5, 6-3 ACC) fell 13-8 to the Gators (19-2, 6-0 AAC), as the visitors used a big 5-1 surge in the fourth quarter to run away with the game late.

After winning the initial draw control, the Gators needed just one minute to score their first goal of the game when senior forward Danielle Pavinelli put a point on the board for Florida. Another goal would come two minutes later for the Gators, with the Cavaliers struggling to find a way to get into the back of the net early.

But with nine minutes left in the quarter, senior forward Morgan Schwab scored the first goal for Virginia, making it a 2-1 game. A minute later, Florida found another goal through senior forward Ashley Gonzalez off an assist from Pavinelli. Senior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg responded with four and a half minutes left in the period, but the Gators refused to let it be a one-goal game and scored two more times to make it 5-2 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started and the Cavaliers came out firing, with graduate midfielder Kiki Shaw converting a man-up opportunity 30 seconds into the game. Virginia continued to play tough defense to keep Florida out of the net and also applied strong offensive pressure regardless. it was to no avail, as they could not convert much when they transgressed.

With nine and a half minutes left in the half, the Gators would strike again, pushing the lead to 6-3. Moments later, however, freshman midfielder Kate Galica converted a free-position shot for the Cavaliers, reducing the deficit to two goals. Two minutes later, Hoeg would bring Virginia within one goal of Florida when she converted on a feed from Schwab. However, Florida responded a few minutes later to restore the two-goal lead, but with two minutes left in the half, graduate forward Katia Carnevale found the net to ensure the Cavaliers were only one point behind heading into halftime with a score of 7-6. .

The first half had already exposed a major problem for Virginia: their inability to win drawing checks. The Gators had a significant advantage, having won twelve of fourteen draws in the first half. That lopsidedness would have to change in the final two quarters for the Cavaliers to make some noise.

The second half started with both teams determined to be the ones to open the scoring. Good, tough defending from both teams led to a five-minute stalemate, with neither side able to take full control. But around the 10-minute mark, freshman forward Jenna Dinardo slipped through after a strong individual effort for the Cavaliers to tie the game at 7-7. The rest of the third period continued to look much more like the first five minutes, with several turnovers and strong defensive efforts. Sophomore goalkeeper Mel Josephson was able to stop a shot from the open position and made a few more impressive saves as the game went on. It wasn’t until there were 29 seconds left in the period that Florida finally regained the lead with a goal from Gonzalez.

That goal built fourth-period momentum for the Gators, as they were able to bury a shot from the open position just a minute into the quarter, making the score 9-7. Five minutes later, Pavinelli would convert a second goal to extend the Florida lead to three goals as the Gators began to pull away from Virginia. The Florida offense would resume around the six-minute mark where they scored three goals in three minutes, leaving the Cavaliers with an almost insurmountable task to overcome a six-goal deficit in just three minutes. Carnevale would score the final goal of the game on a free position shot, but Virginia was unable to put their offense into a final rally, and the game ended with a score of 13–8 in favor of the Gators.

Despite their strong defensive effort, the inability to win drawing checks and missed opportunities on the attacking side made it very difficult for the Cavaliers to overcome their late deficit. Coach Sonia LaMonica emphasized the team’s hard work, but noted the shortcomings that spelled the end of their season.

“There was a standoff there for a while,” LaMonica said. “I think at the end of the day we just didn’t finish some shots that we needed to finish. Thanks to the defensive unit… I think we fell a little short in taking advantage of a few attacking opportunities. That would have made the difference for us today.”

Despite a disappointing defeat at the end of the season, the team made great progress and impressed on many levels throughout the season. LaMonica’s leadership in her first year on the track was exemplary, freshmen like Galica made big plays throughout the season and several new records were set – many of them by Schwab, the team’s points leader. Virginia’s 2024 season holds promise for the future, where expectations for the postseason will grow — exits in the ACC semifinals and the second round of the NCAA Tournament aren’t disastrous, but a program like the Cavaliers could be in both tournaments should aim for deeper runs in 2025.