(Photo from UNFLacrosse.com)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In the first game of its return season to the MCLA, North Florida nearly pulled off a monumental upset to start this young season.
Tasked with facing Florida, a team that qualified for the SELC Division I tournament last spring and finished with a 10-3 record, the Division II Ospreys showed no fear, jumping out to an early lead against the Gators, going toe-to-toe with UF for over three quarters of action before falling, 16-14.
UNF got off to a hot start, jumping on the Gators for four unanswered goals to start the contest. In what would turn out to be a game of runs, Florida clawed back, tying the game, 5-5.
The Ospreys responded with three consecutive goals, only to see the Gators counter at the end of the half to tie the game at eights heading into the break.
One of the stories of the game was at the X.
North Florida dominated faceoffs, eventually forcing Florida to use a pole at the dot. The Osprey won 87 percent of the draws, led by juniors Stephan Rotolante (17-for-20) and Tye Mcghee (12-for-13). Junior LSM Adam Kilby and freshman Kamryn Medvec manned the wings for majority of the game and were instrumental in the unit's success.
Florida took the early lead in the second half, 11-9, but the Ospreys continued to fight and tied the game heading into the fourth quarter at 11-all.
Back at it tonight vs. the Gators #roadtoutah pic.twitter.com/yAojpEAp4m
— UNF Lacrosse (@unf_lacrosse) January 27, 2018
Unfortunately for the Ospreys, the Gators' final four-goal run put them up 16-12 with three minutes left in the game and was too much to overcome. UNF scored two goals in the final minute, but the rally came up just short.
Junior midfielder Jason Randolph led the Osprey offense with six points (5g, 1a). Jacksonville University transfers Aaron Jollow (2g) and Garrett Arnold (2a) helped lead the attack.
Three freshmen -- Thomas Sherry (2g), Kamryn Medvec (1g) and Davis Pittenger (1g) -- were able to get into the points column, providing optimism going forward. Stephan Rotolante (1g) and Ryan Pasinski (2g) also helped the offensive effort.
Sophomore goalie Christian Kouskouris got hit first career start for UNF, coming up with nine saves. The defense held strong, winning the ground ball game and only accumulating one penalty.
The Gators were led by Sam Khalil, who posted six goals and three assists. Paul Cundiff made eight saves in goal to pick up the win.
The Ospreys return to action with their divisional openers against the College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina this weekend. Florida tangles with Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.