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Friday May 25, 2012Top-Seeded Gators to Face Syracuse in First-Ever NCAA Semifinals Appearance

Stony Brook, N.Y.

The University of Florida (19-2) will take on the Syracuse University Orange (18-3) tonight at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in Stony Brook, N.Y., in the Gators’ first-ever NCAA Tournament Semifinals appearance. The two teams faced each other earlier this year on March 3, where Syracuse came out on top, 12-11, in double overtime. Opening draw for the Gators-Orange matchup is set for 5:30 p.m. on ESPN 3. Following their game, #2 Northwestern will face #3 Maryland in the second semifinal game, scheduled to begin 35 minutes following the conclusion of game one. The two semifinal winners will face each other on Sunday night at 8 p.m. in the National Championship game on ESPNU.

LAST TIME OUT: No. 1 Florida made history once again on Saturday, defeating Penn State, 15-2, to advance to its first-ever Final Four. With the win, the Gators became the younger program ever to win more than one tournament game in a single season, and just the second to advance to the National Semifinals in its first three years as a program (UNC; 1997, 98).

Brittany Dashiell led the Gators with three goals and two assists, Nora Barry notched three goals, three ground balls and three draw controls, and Shannon Gilroy had two goals, an assist and six draw controls. In the net, Mikey Meagher made seven stops while allowing just two goals.

THE SERIES: The two teams have faced each other twice in the regular season, with both games being played at Dizney Stadium in Gainesville. Florida took the first contest, 16-11, on March 19. 2011, but ‘Cuse evened the series this season on March 3, with a double-overtime victory. Following Florida’s heartbreaking loss to the Orange, the Gators have won the past 15 straight games.

SYRACUSE 12, FLORIDA 11, 2OT; MARCH 3, 2012: Syracuse opened the game with an early 4-0 lead. Shannon Gilroy gave UF its first goal of the game at 12:48, followed by a goal from Brittany Dashiell. ‘Cuse put up a fifth, but Florida scored two more to come within one, down 5-4.

The Orange scored one just before the half and another shortly after to take a 7-4 lead, but at 13:20, a free-position goal by Nora Barry tied the score at seven.

Syracuse responded with a three-goal run, seemingly putting the game away, but the Gators bounced back to score three in the final three minutes, sending the game to overtime.

Both teams scored one goal in the first overtime period, forcing a sudden-death double overtime stanza. Just before the 67 minute mark, ‘Cuse finally closed the game, winning the thriller, 12-11.

ABOUT THE ORANGE: Syracuse advanced to the National Semifinals for the third time in the past five years after a come-from- behind, 17-16, victory over North Carolina in the Quarterfinals. Trailing 16-14 with three minutes to play, the Orange scored three late goals, including two by Tewaaraton Award finalist Michele Tumolo, with the game-winner coming with just five seconds on the clock. The Orange, who have made nine Tournament appearances since its inception in 1998, advanced to the Semifinals in 2008 and 2010, falling to the eventual National Champion in both years.

Syracuse is having a fantastic season, earning the regular-season BIG EAST title with an 8-0 conference slate and sitting at 18-3 overall on the year. All three of ‘Cuse’s losses have come to ranked teams, falling to No. 6 Virginia, 9-7, on Feb. 26, followed by a double overtime loss against No. 1 Northwestern on Feb. 29, before earning a 12-11 double overtime win over UF on Mar. 3, the Gators’ most recent loss. Syracuse then went on a 15-game winning streak, before falling to No. 14 Loyola, 13-7, in the BIG EAST Championship game.

As a team, the Orange ranks fifth in the nation in points (453) and scoring offense (15.00/g), sixth in draw controls (15.14/g), seventh in scorimg margin (6.14) and 10th in scoring defense (8.86 GA/g). Individually, Syracuse is led on offense by Alyssa Murray and Michello Tumolo, a Tewaaraton Award finalist. Murray ranks second in the nation in goals (70) and third in points (100), while Tumolo is 10th in points (89) and 11th in assists (41). Freshman Kallah Kempney ranks eighth in the nation with 83 draw controls, while Becca Block has a team- high 31 ground balls. Alyssa Costantino has played every game in the cage, ranking second in the nation with a .502 save percentage and sixth with an 8.19 GAA. Costantino is one of just four goalies in the nation with a save percentage above .500 (115 GA, 117 saves).

COVERAGE: All three games 2012 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship games will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Joe Beninati will call the play-by-play, Courtney Martinez Connor will provide color commentary, and John Brickley will serve as the sideline reporter. Florida’s game can also be heard on your local radio dial on WRUF Sports Radio 850, with Cory Stephens, Mike Gillespie and Kailey Mizelle on the call. LiveStats will be presented by GameTracker, and follow @GatorZoneLAX and @GatorZoneScott for notes and scoring updates from the press box.

 

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