GAINESVILLE, Fla. — USC (18-3) used a 5-1 run in the last nine minutes of the game to complete a 15-12 upset of third-seeded Florida (17-3) in the second round of the 2017 NCAA championship at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Sunday, May 14. The Women of Troy advance to their second NCAA quarterfinal game in as many years and will face Boston College (15-6) on Saturday at the Newton Campus Lacrosse Field at 1 p.m. ET.
USC is one of three unseeded teams to advance to the quarterfinal in its half of the NCAA bracket. Boston College took down sixth-seeded Syracuse in the second round and Navy took down seventh-seeded Penn in the first round on Friday. Only defending NCAA champion North Carolina — the No. 2 seed — remains. In the other half of the bracket, top-seeded Maryland faces No. 8 Stony Brook while fourth-seeded Penn State will take on fifth-seeded Princeton in the other quarterfinal games.
Six different Trojans scored against the Gators and each one scored multiple goals. Senior attacker Cynthia Del Core had four goals to lead the Women of Troy and put in the equalizer at 11-all to help propel the Trojans to the win. It was Del Core's 14th-career hat trick game as added an assist to finish with five points. Freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller had four points (3g, 1a) to log her sixth hat trick of the season. She also picked up a ground ball and had two draw controls.
Senior attackers Michaela Michael, Kylie Drexel, Drew Jackson and Gabby McMahon each scored two goals apiece. Michael added seven draw controls and had a ground ball. Drexel also had a pair of assists to go with two draw controls, four ground balls and a caused turnover. Jackson picked up two draw controls and handed out an assist. Jackson scored USC's 12th goal to pull the Trojans even and then put the game-winner in the net from free position with four minutes left to play. McMahon scored the final two goals of the game to pad the win for the Women of Troy.
Freshman midfielder Kaeli Huff had an assist, two ground balls, a draw control, and caused two turnovers. On defense, senior Nina Kelty had two ground balls and a caused turnover. Junior Lydia Sutton also had two ground balls and a caused turnover; and was a key piece to the Trojans' 19-for-22 clearance rate. Sophomore Jackie Gilbert had one ground ball and one caused turnover while freshman Morgan Kuligowski had two ground balls. In goal, junior Gussie Johns put up 14 saves, caused two turnovers, and grabbed seven ground balls in the game.
For the Gators, nine different players scored goals with Mollie Stevens and Carli Marsh each getting two apiece. Stevens and Brianna Harris each grabbed four ground balls. In goal, Haley Hicklen had five saves with three ground balls.
Florida made the first mark two minutes into the game as Allie Pavinelli took a pass from Sammi Burgess to score. Burgess put one past Johns on the next UF possession, but the goal was waved off for a crease violation. Del Core drove to goal on her own after the Trojans successfully cleared a yellow card off the board and scored to even the game at one-all at 25:05. The next time down, Drexel fed Michael from behind the goal. She scored to get the Women of Troy on top 2-1 at 23:59. Three minutes later, Miller picked up a loose ball and earned a spot on the eight-meter arc. Her goal put USC in front 3-1 at 20:46.
Less than 90 seconds later, Harris bounced a shot past Johns to pull UF within a goal at 19:07, but Del Core had the answer again as she went one-on-one to beat her Gator defender for the goal and a 4-2 USC lead at 17:03. Nearly five minutes elapsed before Marsh ended the drought with her goal at 12:11 to keep UF in striking distance, but Del Core hit Miller who scored in transition to push USC ahead 5-3 at 10:15. The Trojans went up by three goals when Huff looped a pass over the top of the Gator defense to give Drexel the clear shot at a wide-open net. The Gators responded with back-to-back goals by Lindsey Ronbeck and Sydney Pirreca to trim the USC lead to one, 6-5. Michael pushed USC back in front by two goals, 7-5, at 5:58 on her eight-meter shot, but the Gators scored with under a minute left after stopping a USC clear to make the score 7-6 at halftime.
The Gators scored the first two goals of the second half to complete a 3-0 run and took an 8-7 lead. Pavinelli (26:05) and Stevens (24:05) did the damage before Jackson hit Drexel for the goal at 21:49 to bring the Trojans back into an eight-all tie. Florida did it again as Stevens and Shayna Pirreca went back-to-back for goals at 20:54 and 18:01 to put the Gators up 10-8. Miller scored her third goal from free position and then Del Core scored from the eight-meter arc on back-to-back USC possessions to knot the score once more at 10-all with 16:44 to play.
Florida continued to press and took an 11-10 lead when Marsh went with a bounce shot to score, but Del Core drove to goal alone again and took a hard push as she scored to even the score at 11-all. The Gators took their final lead when Caroline Benitez scored off a feed from behind the goal for a 12-11 advantage at 7:07. From there, Jackson went solo for the goal and then took advantage of a yellow card issued to Pavinelli to put the Trojans on top 13-12. For insurance, McMahon took a feed from Miller and went low to score for a 14-12 lead at 3:19. McMahon took her next pass from Drexel to score the 15th USC goal at 1:39. Florida won the next draw, but Johns stood fast in goal to stop the Gators and preserve the Trojans' 15-12 win.
For more information on the NCAA women's lacrosse championship, a complete schedule, bracket, social content, and results, visit NCAA.com.
- USC avenged an early-season loss to the Gators and improved to 1-1 all-time against Florida (15-10 loss on Feb. 24, 2017).
- The Trojans improved to 4-2 in all-time NCAA tournament games. USC will play in an NCAA quarterfinal game for the second consecutive season and the second time in program history.
- The Women of Troy improved to 9-11 all-time in games played on the East Coast.
- USC's 18th win this season is the second-highest total in program history (20 in 2016).
- The Trojans won their 12th straight game; the team's longest winning streak this season and the second longest in program history (20 in 2016).
- USC has now won 38 of its last 42 games.
- Senior attacker Michaela Michael scored two goals to extend her USC and MPSF single-season record for goals to 77.
- Michael grabbed seven draw controls to move her 2017 total to 143 draw controls, which extends a USC and MPSF single-season mark.
- Senior attacker Cynthia Del Core scored four goals for her 14th-career hat trick.
- Freshman midfielder Kerrigan Miller scored three goals for her sixth-career hat trick. Miller's two free-position goal set a new career mark.
- Senior attacker Kylie Drexel picked up a career-high four ground balls.