Posted: 10:38 a.m. Monday, April 15, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
The Weekend Review runs down Florida's sporting successes and failures in the non-football, non-basketball, non-track sports on crowded fall and spring weekends. If you have a club sport or other note to include in the Weekend Review, hit @AlligatorArmy.
Florida's women's tennis team has won two straight national titles, and is looking for a third. On Sunday, at Vanderbilt, the Gators took the first big step in that pursuit, and won their fourth straight SEC title.
Florida topped the Commodores by a 4-1, dropping the doubles point and getting wins from Olivia Janowicz, Alexandra Cercone, Lauren Embree, and Sofie Oyen in singles, and moved to 12-1 in SEC play after that win and a sweep of Kentucky on Friday, good enough to tie for the 2013 regular season title with Georgia and Texas A&M.; Florida had won the last three SEC titles outright.
After a draw to determine seeds for the 2013 SEC Tournament, though, Florida ended up with the No. 3 seed ... and a very familiar path to the SEC Tournament title. Florida will play the final match of the SEC Tournament's third day at 6 p.m. on Friday, against either Vanderbilt, Kentucky, or LSU, and would play the late semifinal match on Saturday, much like it did in 2012 as the No. 1 seed.
Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Georgia has to play at 9 a.m. on Friday, and, with a win, at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Georgia does avoid Texas A&M; and Florida on its road to the final, while Florida would get the Aggies if both teams win on Friday, but I know that I'd rather play tennis in the evening than the morning.
Florida's won the last three SEC Tournaments, and has only failed to advance to the event's final once since 2001.
The SEC title is Florida's seventh of 2012-13, joining conference championships won by volleyball, soccer, women's cross country, men's swimming and diving, men's basketball, and gymnastics.
I think we've covered baseball pretty thoroughly with recaps this weekend, so I'll just link them here.
Florida lacrosse went into the half of its game at Vanderbilt on Sunday with a 11-8 lead. The second half was not nearly as close: Florida scored the period's first five goals and outscored the Commodores 10-2 in the second half-hour of play, winning the final road test of the regular season by a 21-10 score.
Florida's 21 goals were its most in 2013 against an American Lacrosse Conference foe, and powered by career days from Ashley Bruns, who tied her own Florida record for goals in a game with eight (on nine shots!) and Brittany Dashiell, who had a career-high seven draw controls. Five other Florida players — Dashiell, Nora Barry, Kitty Cullen, Nicole Graziano, and Gabi Wiegand — joined Bruns in scoring multiple goals, with Graziano netting three and the rest adding two.
Florida will now come home for its regular season finale against Northwestern, probably the biggest regular season game in Florida lacrosse history. The winner of Saturday's clash wins the ALC's regular season title (something Florida has taken in each of the last two years) and the No. 1 seed for the ALC Tournament, plus it'll be Senior Day for Florida's sensational first recruiting class, which includes Bruns, Cullen, Dashiell, Wiegand, and many more players.
If you're in Gainesville next Saturday, and you don't find a way out to Donald R. Dizney Stadium, you're gonna miss out.
Florida's men's tennis team came into the weekend with the chance to move all the way up to No. 2 in the SEC. The Gators didn't get that far, but their two wins got them the same seed in the SEC Tournament that the women got.
Florida outfought No. 8 Kentucky in a 4-3 match on Friday, then thumped Vanderbilt 4-1 on Sunday's Senior Day, boosting its SEC record to 7-5. That's good for a four-way tie for third in the conference with South Carolina, Texas A&M;, and Ole Miss, and Florida's 2-1 record (wins over A&M; and Ole Miss, and a road loss to South Cack) against the other teams earned the Gators the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament.
Florida's reward for that No. 3 seed will be a date with a team it lost to, either South Carolina or LSU, in the first match of Friday's quarterfinals, but, with a win, the Gators will likely play a team they beat for the right to go to the final: Tennessee, Auburn, and Vanderbilt are the three teams Florida could see in the semis, and Florida beat both the Vols and 'Dores, the two higher seeds of the three, this year.
Florida's SEC rally has been remarkable: Despite starting 1-2 and 3-4, the Gators knocked off five teams currently in the top 15 of the ITA men's rankings en route to their 7-7 mark. If Florida hadn't lost to LSU and Auburn — two top-20 teams that still finished below .500 in the SEC — the Gators would undoubtedly be a top-10 team and the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.
Florida's softball team is at its best when it's launching homers. But it helps to have some offense beyond that, as the Gators proved this weekend in a 2-1 series win at Kentucky.
Florida launched two dingers that scored five runs on Friday in a 7-4 win over the Wildcats, but the second one, from Kelsey Horton, was rendered mere insurance by the two runs that crossed the plate on a Stephanie Toftt double in the first inning. The Gators could have used a two-run double on Saturday, when a Kirsti Merritt homer scored the only two runs in a 4-2 loss, but got back to their ideal mix on Sunday, with Taylor Schwarz cracking a homer and a triple and driving in three runs in a 6-3 win.
Florida's record now stands at 41-5, and the Gators haven't lost a series all year.