via press release – photo via UF website
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – NCAA Tournament play officially kicks off for the University of Florida women’s lacrosse team (17-2) on Sunday, as the No. 3-seeded Gators face Southern California (17-3) in a Second Round matchup.
The Gators and Trojans will meet for just the second time overall, and the second time this season, as Florida claimed a 15-10 victory in the inaugural meeting between the two schools on February 24. Southern California advanced to the Second Round after a 13-10 decision over Jacksonville on Friday.
The opening draw is set for 12 p.m. from Donald R. Dizney Stadium. A live stream of the game will be available via YouTube, with Daniel Gillman and Connor Buckridge on the call.
A trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals (Elite Eight) against Boston College or Syracuse awaits the winner of Sunday’s game. As the No. 3 Seed, Florida would host the Quarterfinal at Donald R. Dizney Stadium should the Gators win.
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No. 3 Seed Florida enters the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game win streak. The Gators own the nation’s highest-scoring offense, with 17.05 goals scored per game. Senior Mollie Stevens (57 goals, 16 assists, 102 draw controls, 44 ground balls, and 23 caused turnovers) leads the way for Florida on the attack. Senior Caroline Fitzgerald (26 caused turnovers, 43 ground balls) and sophomore Haley Hicklen (137 saves, .493 save percentage) anchor the Gator defense.
Southern California has won 11 games in a row heading into Sunday’s game. The Trojans rank second in the NCAA in scoring defense, only allowing 7.3 goals per game. Senior attacker Michaela Michael (75 goals, 136 draw controls) and junior goalkeeper Gussie Johns (120 saves, 7.67 goals-against average) lead USC.
What Happened Last Time?
The Gators and Trojans squared off for the first time back in February in a top-five matchup. Florida’s five-goal victory (15-10) marked its closest winning margin of the season. In that game:
- The Gators forced the Trojan offense into 24 turnovers
- Mollie Stevens had a perfect five-for-five shooting performance to lead Florida’s attack
- Haley Hicklen recorded a career-high 13 saves
- The Trojans were led by four goals from Cynthia Del Core
- USC outmuscled Florida in the draw circle, 17-10
- After a 4-0 USC run to start the second half narrowed Florida’s lead to just one goal (8-7), the Gators put the game away with a 7-2 run spanning almost 18 minutes of game time
- Florida has a 6-6 record all-time in NCAA Tournament play
- UF is looking for its fifth NCAA Quarterfinal berth in the eight-year history of the program
- The Gators have won nine games in a row at Donald R. Dizney Stadium
- #PirrecaPower: Pirreca sisters Shayna and Sydney have combined to score 26% (83/324) of Florida’s goals in 2017
- Shayna Pirreca is just six goals away from becoming the ninth Gator to score 100 career goals
- Haley Hicklen is eight saves away from tying Mikey Meagher (145) for the most saves in a single-season in UF history