The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Women’s lacrosse upset in season-ending defeat against Florida

The Gators’ dominance on the draws helped propel them to victory

<p>The Cavaliers' season came to a close in their own stadium after a difficult fourth quarter.</p>

The Cavaliers' season came to a close in their own stadium after a difficult fourth quarter.

Virginia faced off against Florida Sunday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Klöckner Stadium. The No. 5 seed Cavaliers (15-5, 6-3 ACC) fell to the Gators (19-2, 6-0 AAC) 13-8 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 took just one minute to score their first goal of the game as senior attacker 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 to the back of the net early.

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

The second quarter began, and the Cavaliers came out firing, with graduate midfielder Kiki Shaw capitalizing on a man up opportunity 30 seconds in. Virginia continued to play tough defense to keep Florida out of the net and also applied strong offensive pressure, however it was to no avail as they were unable to convert much on offense. 

With nine and a half minutes remaining in the half, the Gators would strike once again to put them up 6-3. Moments later, however, freshman midfielder Kate Galica was able to convert a free-position shot for the Cavaliers, cutting the deficit to two goals. Two minutes later, Hoeg would put Virginia within one goal of Florida as she converted off of a feed from Schwab. However, Florida answered a few minutes later to reestablish its two goal lead, but with two minutes remaining in the half, graduate attacker Katia Carnevale found the net and assured the Cavaliers were only down one point heading into halftime with a score of 7-6. 

The first half already had highlighted a major issue for Virginia — their inability to win draw controls. The Gators held a considerable advantage, having won 12 of the 14 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 began with both teams furiously determined to be the ones to open the scoring. Good, tough defense by both teams led to five minutes of deadlock, with neither side able to fully take control. But around the 10-minute mark, freshman attacker Jenna Dinardo slipped through on a strong individual effort for the Cavaliers to tie the game at 7-7. The remainder of the third period continued to be much more similar to the first five minutes with several turnovers and strong defensive efforts. Sophomore goalkeeper Mel Josephson was able to stonewall a free-position shot and made a couple of other impressive saves in the run of play. It was not until 29 seconds remained in the period when Florida finally regained their lead with a goal from Gonzalez. 

That goal kickstarted scoring momentum in the fourth period for the Gators, as just a minute into the quarter they were able to bury a free-position shot, 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 onslaught would resume around the six minute mark, where they scored three goals in three minutes, putting the Cavaliers to a nearly insurmountable task of overcoming a six-goal deficit in just three minutes. Carnevale would score the last goal of the game off of a free position shot, but Virginia was unable to spur their offense to a final rally, and the game came to a close with a score of 13-8 in favor of the Gators. 

Despite their strong defensive effort, an inability to win draw controls as well as missed opportunities on the offensive end 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 stalemate there for a little bit,” LaMonica said. “I think at the end of the day … we just didn’t finish some shots that we had to finish. Credit to the defensive unit … I think we just came up a little short in capitalizing on a few offensive opportunities. That would have made a difference for us today.”

Despite a disappointing loss to end the season, the team made great strides and impressed on many levels throughout the season. The leadership from LaMonica in her first year on the job was exemplary, freshmen like Galica stepped up to make big plays throughout the season and several new records were set — many by Schwab, the team’s points leader. Virginia’s 2024 season shows promise for the future, where expectations about the postseason will grow — exits in the ACC Semifinal and the second round of the NCAA Tournament are not disastrous, but a program like the Cavaliers should be looking to make deeper runs in both tournaments in 2025.


Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.