GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Eleven games into its 15-game regular season schedule, the Florida men’s lacrosse team finds itself at 8-3. Humbling losses and milestone wins alike have been the story so far, setting the stage for an all-important final stretch leading up to April’s SELC tournament.
In the loss column, the Gators, who as of March 11 have the fifth-best RPI in MCLA Division I according to Virtually Varsity, have challenged and ultimately fallen to three of the MCLA’s best.
A road loss at No. 25 Clemson, a home loss versus No. 6 South Carolina, and a neutral site setback on the west coast against No. 4 Michigan State all served to remind the Gators that though they’ve come along way, they still have plenty of work to do.
In the win column, Florida has run down milestones aplenty. An 11-9 road win at Georgia marked the Gators’ first win over the Dawgs since 2011.
In the always-important regional match up against UCF, a game that Florida had won by a single goal the past four seasons, the Gators defeated the Knights by a resounding score of 13-4.
Two days later, a 9-8 home win over a ranked Texas A&M outfit on an electrifying buzzer beater secured Florida’s first Top 25 win in the last five seasons. One week later and on the opposite coast, the Gators recorded another walk-off victory, this time against Sonoma State in overtime, marking the program’s first win in California since 2010.
Florida concluded its three-game west coast swing with a convincing win over Stanford, 15-9, to leave the Golden State with a 2-1 record for the trip. Back at home, the Gators overcame jet lag and a short turnaround time to defeat two-time defending LSA champion Southern Methodist in a Monday night matchup.
Florida now looks forward to some much-deserved time and this weekend’s Second Annual Jamie Chapin Classic before embarking on the last leg of their regular season with a neutral-site matchup against Auburn on March 25.
After their showdown with the Tigers, the Gators will look to punch their ticket to the SELC tournament in three-straight regional games against South Florida, Miami and Florida State.
“In our league, there’s only one way to truly control your own destiny when it comes to making nationals: win your conference,” said Florida coach Garrett Hanrahan. “I’m extremely proud of the effort our guys have put forth so far, and the results they’ve produced to this point give testament to their work ethic, ability, and their genuine desire to elevate the status of this program each year until we are a bona fide national championship contender.
“But, at the end of the day, the SELC Championship is always the prime objective. Take care of the region and punch our ticket to Atlanta, then go to Atlanta, bring home the trophy, and punch our ticket to nationals. In this final stretch, that will be our singular focus. I’m excited to watch our guys attack that goal with everything they’ve got.”