Skip to main content
Florida's Emily heller

Gators Win 18th Straight, Set to Face Virginia for First Time

May 10, 2024
Brian Logue
Keith Lucas / Sideline Media

Red-hot Florida avenged one of its two losses on the season with a 17-8 victory over North Carolina in Charlottesville, Va., its first win over the Tar Heels since 2018. The Gators will meet No. 5 seed Virginia, a 21-6 winner over LIU, in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship on Sunday. It will be the first-ever meeting between Florida and Virginia.

The Tar Heels dominated the second half in a 19-10 win over the Gators on Feb. 17. That loss sent Florida to an 0-2 start, but since then they’ve ripped off 18 in a row and are just one win away from tying the school record of 19 wins set during a final four season in 2012.

Florida scored first and never trailed in the game, but North Carolina got hot late in the first half, cutting an early five-goal Gator advantage to two goals on two separate occasions, the last following Caroline Godine’s goal with 5:20 left in the half to get Carolina within 8-6.

The Gators then seized control with Paisley Eagan, Maggi Hall and Ashley Gonzalez scoring three straight goals to close the half. Florida then blanked the Tar Heels in the third quarter with UNC’s offense going on a 22-minute scoring drought as Florida goalie Elyse Finnelle made a career-high 14 saves.

Hall, Josie Hahn and Emily Heller each scored three goals to pace the Florida goal scorers and Gonzalez (1g, 4a) and Danielle Pavinelli (1g, 3a) combined for nine points.

Florida had a 19-11 advantage in the draw circle with the Gators’ Liz Harrison grabbing a game-high seven draws.

Godine, Alyssa Long and Caitlyn Wurzburger each scored twice for the Tar Heels which ended an injury-ravaged season with a 10-7 record.

Before the season began North Carolina lost All-American defender Brooklyn Walker-Welch and talented young offensive players Kaleigh Harden (14 goals in 2023), Chloe Humphrey (No. 1 recruit in 2024 freshman class) and Marissa White (46 goals in 2023) to season-ending injuries. On Friday, the Tar Heels were also without leading scorer Ashley Humphrey (57 points) to an injury.

Wurzburger’s two goals on Friday gave her a fourth straight season with at least 50 points and she finished her career with 251 points, the fourth-highest total in North Carolina history.

Florida's Amanda O'Leary
Keith Lucas / Sideline Media

400 for O'Leary

Florida's victory over North Carolina was the 400th of head coach Amanda O’Leary’s coaching career. O’Leary won 162 games as the head coach at Yale from 1994 to 2007 and has now won 238 since starting the Florida program in the 2010 season.

Virginia 21, LIU 6

In the first game of the day, host and No. 5 seed Virginia (15-4) pulled away from LIU for a 21-6 victory. The Cavaliers led 4-3 after the first quarter, but opened the second quarter scoring five straight goals and outscored the Sharks 10-1 in the quarter to take command.

Virginia’s veterans did most of the damage. Senior Morgan Schwab, the school’s all-time assists leader, had six helpers to go along with a goal. Junior Kate Miller scored five times, Lehigh grad transfer Kate Carnivale had four goals to up her season total to a team-best 55 and senior Mackenzie Hoeg and grad student Kiki Shaw each had hat tricks.

The Cavaliers, led by first-year head coach Sonia LaMonica, are looking to make it to the NCAA quarterfinal round for the first time since 2014.

LIU, which qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, finished the season 10-7. Olivia Fantigrossi scored three goals, including the first goal of the game that gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead and another that tied the game 3-3 late in the first quarter.