Skip to main content
Led by Maggi Hall, Florida won 20 straight games after an 0-2 start.

NCAA Rewind: No Team Exceeded Expectations Quite Like Florida

July 10, 2024
Beth Ann Mayer
John Strohsacker

Before USA Lacrosse Magazine looks ahead to what’s to come in 2025 — look out for our NCAA Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings later this summer — our team of staff and contributors decided it was worth taking a last look at the 2024 college lacrosse season.

To do that, we’re taking a journey through 30 of the top teams in men’s and women’s lacrosse to see what went right, what went wrong and how we should feel about the season.


USA Lacrosse preseason/final ranking: No. 12/No. 4
2024 record: 20-3 (6-0 AAC)

What went right: After starting 0-2 with losses to Loyola (Feb. 10) and North Carolina (Feb. 17), Florida rattled off 20 wins in a row, including regular-season and tournament American Athletic Conference crowns and the Gators’ first trip to the NCAA semifinals since 2012.

The Gators twice dominated preseason conference favorite James Madison, which returned 2023 Tewaaraton finalist Isabella Peterson, including a 21-11 win in the AAC tournament final, giving Florida its 10th consecutive conference crown and 11th overall. 

Florida bookended its streak with victories over Maryland in College Park. The first came in overtime on Feb. 24, and the second was in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal in which Florida won 15-9 to become the lone unseeded team to secure a semifinal spot.

It was a season that seemed unlikely in the preseason when questions about how Florida would handle the losses of star attacker Emma LoPinto (transfer to Boston College) and all-time great goalie Sarah Reznick (graduation). On the goalie front, redshirt sophomore Elyse Finnelle became the Gators’ full-time starter later in the season after a rocky start, playing every minute of the Gators’ win over East Carolina on April 6. Florida finished seventh nationally in scoring defense (8.48 goals allowed per game). 

Related Article
NCAA Rewind: An 'Up' Season for Penn
Read More

What went wrong: Honestly? Not much. The 0-2 start became water under the bridge, especially when Florida routed North Carolina 17-8 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to avenge the February loss that was ultimately not all that important (outside of motivational purposes). The Gators ended their season in a 15-11 loss to Northwestern.

Season highlight: Beating Maryland in the quarterfinals. A second final four trip was a long-awaited one for Florida, which made the national semifinals for the first time in 2012 — an impressive feat considering the program played its first season in 2010. However, Florida has fallen short in the quarterfinals four times since, most recently in 2021. 

The Gators had bowed out during the NCAA tournament’s opening weekend in the last two seasons. The 2024 quarterfinal win over Maryland had very much a hurry-up-and-wait feel. Florida built a 9-0 first-quarter lead, though Maryland eventually settled in and outscored the Gators 9-6 in the final three frames — not nearly enough to mount a comeback. 

In the final win of her collegiate career, Maggi Hall poured in six goals and added an assist, and Finnelle added 10 saves.

Verdict: No team exceeded expectations quite like Florida (Michigan certainly punched above its weight, too, but lacked a final four berth). After losing LoPinto and Reznick to graduation and starting the year 0-2, the expectations were lower than usual.

But championships aren’t won in February, and games aren’t won on paper. The season was one for the time capsule in Gainesville. Next up, the Gators will help usher in a new era in women’s lacrosse as members of the Big 12, which will sponsor the sport for the first time in 2025. Can Florida continue to collect conference crowns? Colorado, the Pac-12 tournament runner-up, will likely be its biggest early challenger.