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May 28, 2012
The Florida Gators were all over the college and professional sports landscape over the weekend, making their marks in a number of different sports. Below is a round-up of how all of your favorite teams and players did in the wide world of sports.
No. 1 Florida lacrosse's history-making season came to an end with a thud on Friday after the Gators blew a seven-goal second-half lead and eventually fell to No. 4 Syracuse 14-13 in sudden death overtime. It was the second time this season that the Orange won in that fashion, previously taking a 12-11 decision in Gainesville, FL on March 3.
Florida had the upper hand most of match thanks in part to a 10-save effort by junior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher in the first half. Freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy scored a team-high five goals and junior M Brittany Dashiell added four more but UF's defense and some bad breaks caused them to eventually fall apart.
The Gators actually scored with nine seconds remaining in the first overtime, but her goal was rescinded due to her scoring with what was deemed to be an illegal stick. Minutes later SU scored their game-winning goal in sudden death overtime, but the stick was deemed to be legal and the goal was allowed.
Footage of a replay of the goal caught by ESPN and exposed online following the match shows a Syracuse player adjusting the stick after the goal, though it is unknown whether or not that action made a difference in its legality.
Either way, Florida suffered a devastating loss despite the program only being around three years. The Gators were a true national title contender and beat the team that eventually won the national title (Northwestern) twice in impressive fashion during the regular season.
After advancing to the semifinals of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament, No. 2 Florida baseball suffered a collapse similar to that of the lacrosse team's as junior closer Austin Maddox coughed up five earned runs on five hits in the top of the ninth inning to blow a one-run lead and allow UF to fall 8-6 to Vanderbilt and be eliminated from the event.
The Gators did not get off to a good start with sophomore right-hander Karsten Whitson giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and no strikeouts in 2.1 innings, but Florida's middle relief was outstanding as senior RHP Greg Larson and junior LHP Steven Rodriguez combined to give up two hits and one walk while striking out four in 5.2 innings.
UF's offense spotted Maddox a 4-3 lead heading into the top of the ninth but poor pitching combined with a lack of awareness on the mound allowed VU to steal more bases that inning (seven) than any team has swiped in an entire SEC Tournament game in the history of the event. The Commodores even successfully pulled off a triple steal that made No. 5 on SportsCenter's Top Plays.
Florida on Sunday learned that Gainesville, FL will be one of 16 regional sites for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. When the complete seedings and assignments were announced on Monday at noon Florida found out that they are the No. 1 overall seed in the nation.
The Gainesville Regional will include: 1) Florida, 2) Georgia Tech, 3) College of Charleston and 4) Bethune Cookman.
The Gators' weekend extended well past those two teams. Below are some accomplishments that the Florida athletic program and its former players achieved over the three-day span.
- No. 1 UF women's tennis fell just short of individual championships in singles and doubles with junior No. 1 Allie Will falling 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the Final Four to No. 3 Nicole Gibbs of Stanford and the No. 22 doubles team of junior Lauren Embree and senior Joanna Mather losing in the Elite Eight to Tennessee's No. 10-ranked team 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3).
- Two Gators coaches - men tennis' Andy Jackson and women's golf's Jan Dowling resigned from their positions at the University of Florida on Friday and Saturday, respectively. While Jackson's resignation appeared to be more at the behest of athletic director Jeremy Foley, Dowling seems to have left on her own terms. "I was surprised with Jan's decision, but I respect her decision to do what is best for her. We wish her the best in whatever he future holds," Foley said in a school release.
- Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons revealed to me on Friday that he partially tore the labrum in his right shoulder late in the season and has been undergoing treatment for it over the last four weeks. Parsons is back in Gainesville and will continue to undergo rehab while being forced to do non-contact work until sometime in June. He did not undergo shoulder surgery as his doctors did not require it, and the 2012 NBA All-Rookie second team member expects to be healthy enough to participate in a pair of Summer League games in the coming months.
- Despite receiving a transfer commitment from 2010 four-star prospect power forward Damontre Harris (formerly of South Carolina) over the weekend, Florida will continue pursuing Virginia Tech forward transfer Dorian Finney-Smith, a source close to the team told me on Saturday. Finney-Smith's mother told Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv on Sunday that her son will choose between UF, Iowa State, Louisville, Marquette and Texas but has yet to schedule four of his five potential visits. Though the Gators' scholarship allotment was technically filled when Harris made his decision, UF would most definitely find a way to bring Finney-Smith in should he chose Florida when all is said and done.