March 1, 2016
Mollie Stevens (left) scored the game-winning goal in overtime off a fast break as No. 2 Florida downed No. 3 Syracuse 11-10. (Greg Wall)
Mollie Stevens (left) scored the game-winning goal in overtime off a fast break as No. 2 Florida downed No. 3 Syracuse 11-10. (Greg Wall)

Florida Nips Syracuse in OT in Wild Finish

by Stephen Bailey | Twitter | Box Score

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Twenty seconds into sudden-death overtime, Syracuse goalie Allie Murray began her trot up the field.
The aggressive fifth-year transfer from Notre Dame already had two turnovers in the game, but that didn't stop her from crossing midfield yet again. A goal against Florida would give the Orange a premier non-conference victory and extend the team's undefeated start.
But after exchanging passes with junior defender Kaeli O'Connor, Murray was stripped just over midfield. UF junior midfielder Mollie Stevens knocked the ball out, junior attacker Sammi Burgess scooped it up and the race was on.
Burgess was fouled 12 yards from the net and on the restart flicked a pass to Stevens on the left doorstep for an easy score. Murray, halted at the 15-yard line after the foul call, could do nothing but watch as the ball sailed past O'Connor's last-ditch dive and into the net.
"It's a settled clear," Gait said. "We're usually pretty good at it; it's almost a guaranteed clear every time. Today wasn't the case."
"Our thought was at that point that we really needed to pressure her to get the ball up and out," Florida coach Amanda O'Leary added. "I thought our team really executed well."
Murray's turnover was the last of 16 Syracuse committed Tuesday afternoon as No. 3 Florida (5-0) defeated the No. 2 Orange (5-1) 11-10 in overtime. Freshman midfielder Lindsey Ronbeck paced UF with three goals on three shots and an assist while junior attack Sammi Burgess and freshman midfielder Sydney Pirreca tallied two goals each.
Florida senior goalie Mary-Sean Wilcox made nine saves while holding Syracuse to just one goal over the final 16:50. Murray, who entered the game allowing 6.79 goals per game, recorded just two saves in the contest. She was not made available for interview by SU Athletics.
"We just pushed up a little too much," Gait said of the final sequence. "We weren't quite spread out the way we needed to be, and the players that were open didn't come to the ball. They got jumped, Allie got in a situation with a player on her and she tried to make a play.
"Unfortunately, she didn't get the ball there and she gave it up for a fast-break the other way."
Before the bizarre closing sequence, the top-three matchup featured a series of momentum shifts.
Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead 10 minutes in behind two goals from Pirreca before Syracuse responded with a 4-0 run that included a smooth finish from senior midfielder Kelly Cross about eight yards out. The Gators then reeled off three more goals before halftime to take a 6-4 lead despite SU winning 10-of-11 draws.
After the break, the Orange used a 5-1 run to put Florida on its heels midway through the second half. But the 9-7 advantage was erased by a trio of UF tallies between the 8:38 and 4:11 marks. Stevens go-ahead came off a beautiful passing sequence around the cage. The result was an open look from 7 yards out straightaway.
"We should be fine," SU sophomore attack Riley Donahue said. "We play these teams for practice, to know what we should do better and what we should improve on."
Syracuse senior attack Halle Majorana tied the game with 2:46 left in regulation, driving down the left alley and stick-faking before firing. But the Orange failed to find the net again, including a great opportunity when Wilcox thrwarted Cross with 17 seconds to play.
Kayla Treanor won the draw in overtime, her 13th of the game, before the final turnover set up Florida's winning goal.
Said Gait: "You make mistakes and you pay the price. I thought that we just made too many mistakes, and that's what the game ended up coming down to."

In other games on Tuesday:

• Dartmouth senior Jaclyn Leto had a career-high eight goals as the Big Green edged Boston University 15-13. Mickinzie Larivee led BU with four goals. Leto's eight goals were the most for a Dartmouth player since Jacque Weitzel scored eight against Harvard in 2000. Dartmouth improved to 3-1.

• Megan Pinkerton had four goals and two assists as Temple closed the game on a 6-0 run to beat Wagner 12-7. The Owls won their fourth straight game to improve to 4-1.

• Sara Nolan scored five goals as Coastal Carolina downed Niagara in Jacksonville, Fla., to pick up its first victory of the season.

• Tessa Chad had four goals as Canisius downed Binghamton 12-7 to even its record at 1-1 for the season.

• Furman won its second straight game, pouring in 18 goals to down St. Francis (Pa.) 18-6. Devon Horine had six goals and an assist for the Paladins and Maggie Friel made 10 saves.

• Maggie Carver had three goals and an assist and Kirsten Wilhelmsen also added a hat trick as Lafayette downed Iona 13-8. Thea Leitman made 13 saves for Iona.

• Michigan outscored San Diego State 7-2 in the first half on its way to a 10-6 victory. Tess Korten scored four goals as the Wolverines won their third straight game to improve to 4-2. The Wolverines two losses came by a combined two goals - one-goal losses to Florida and Oregon.

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