Choma’s decisive score came after the Gators (17-4) playing from behind for nearly the final 36 minutes, stunned the No. 8-seed Irish with four goals from four different players in less than five minutes — after scoring 11 time during the game’s first 54 — to pull even at 15-all on Danielle Pavinelli’s unassisted tally with 1:22 to play.
After winning the ensuing draw, UF turned the ball over with 54 seconds left and paid for it two-fold when midfielder Paisley Eagan was assessed a green card on the play. ND capitalized on the woman-up advantage when Choma cut through the 8-meter area, took a pass from Jane McAvoy and fired past Florida goalkeeper Sarah Reznick with those mere seconds to play.
Florida lost the draw and thus had no chance for any kind of miracle finish, falling shy of reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2019.
“It was a great game,” said head coach Amanda O’Leary. “Obviously Notre Dame came out ready to play. I thought we had some good quarters, and struggled in some other quarters. To play a team like that, who is so good, you need to play a full 60 minute game. I think we were resilient, we came back from a four-goal deficit to tie it up. I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”
UF was led by four goals and two assists from Maggi Hall, with her final score the 100th of her career. Emma LoPinto also had four goals and an assist, while both Pavinelli, who had five goals in Friday’s opening-round defeat of Jacksonville, and Emily Heller scored twice each. Reznick, who set a single-game program record with 17 saves Friday, faced a barrage of 38 shots by the Irish and totaled 14 saves (.448).
Notre Dame All-America attacker Jackie Wolak finished with a game-high five goals, plus a pair of assists. Madison Ahern added three goals and an assist. Keeper Lilly Callahan stopped only four of UF’s 19 shots (.211), but it proved just enough. Barely.
In what was the first-ever meeting between the two programs, Notre Dame broke open a 5-all game with three consecutive goals that represented the final tallies of the second period, the last a free-position score from Ahern on a woman-up opportunity after a yellow card was issued to Pavinelli.
Florida went to the locker room down 8-5 and five times over the next 16 minutes got within two scores, including at 13-11 when Madison Waters made a terrific steal at the ND point of attack and turned the turnover into a wide-open length-of-the-field, give-and-go break. Waters was rewarded at the end of the charge with an assist from LoPinto and fired a goal past Callahan with 13:01 to play.
The Irish, however, scored three minutes later on when Choma’s third goal of the half that pushed the margin back to three with 10 minutes remaining. Her fourth of the half was an unassisted mark that came with 6:55 to go and made it 15-11.
But then came Hall unassisted just 53 seconds later to make in a three-goal margin. At 2:29 Tayler Warehime scored on a pass from Emily Heller, and then Pavinelli, 50 seconds later, went unassisted to tie the game for the first time since the 13:31 mark to send the UF faithful into a tizzy and set up a cruel finish to an otherwise rewarding season.
“That group of seniors has had so much success, and it’s all because of their team chemistry and their hard work,” said O’Leary. “They’re just a great group of young women on and off the field, and that’s what makes this so special, and is what makes the University of Florida’s lacrosse so special. It’s the people in the locker room. The wins and losses, they probably aren’t going to remember that. They’re going to remember the life-long relationships that they have. I couldn’t be more proud of this senior class. They’ve been through Covid and they’ve been through a lot of adversity, but have persevered, and I love each and every one of them.”
No. 6 Florida (17-4)
No. 8 Notre Dame (15-5)
- Florida’s 30 combined saves between the first and second rounds are first in UF NCAA Tournament history
- Sarah Reznick’s 30 saves between the two games puts her first for individual totals in UF NCAA Tournament history as well
- Florida’s 19 combined assists between the first and second rounds are second in UF NCAA Tournament history
- Hat Trick Counter
- Florida ends its stellar season with a 17-4 record overall, having won its conference tournament for the ninth-straight year and 10th overall
- The Gators had five athletes named to IWLCA All-Region Teams and nine earn a spot on either the All-AAC First Team or Second Team
- Sarah Reznick (Goalkeeper of the Year) and Emily Heller (Midfielder of the Year) each clinched major awards from the AAC
- The Gators move to 13-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament
- Notre Dame takes the 1-0 lead in the all-time series
- Florida is now 126-23 (.846) in the confines of Donald R. Dizney Stadium
- Maggi Hall recorded her 100th-career goal, becoming the 17th player in Florida history to hit the milestone
- (if loss) The Gators conclude the 2023 campaign with a 4-4 record against opponents ranked in the IWLCA/ILWomen Top-25 poll
- Streaking: Sarah Reznick has recorded a save in 72-straight games, a new program record
- Streaking: Maggi Hall has dished out an assist in 14-straight games, the third-longest streak in program history