After completing the sometimes grueling, sometimes grinding, sometimes trying four-year transition period into Division I, the UNF women’s team entered the season with a slogan – “Make Macon” – in reference to the location for this year’s General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Championships and after a regular season that included an upset of FGCU late in the year, the Ospreys achieved their mission, and made Macon.
Upon arrival, their appearance was thought to be a quick one. They entered as the seventh seed - a seed that had never won a game in the A-Sun Championships – and they drew the host, Mercer, in the quarterfinals – a team that swept the regular-season meetings.
After dismissing the hosting Bears with suffocating defense on Wednesday afternoon, the Ospreys matched that intensity with an equally impressive effort in eliminating their crosstown rival, Jacksonville, to advance to Saturday’s title game.
“In the preseason coach told us that [M2] that was our slogan for the year,” guard Juliemay Syquio said. “M2 is ‘Make Macon’ and we made it. Now our slogan is ‘Why Not Us?’ The whole conference tournament we have been the underdog and now our new slogan needs to say ‘Stay True to the Blue’ because sticking to defense has been in our favor the whole tournament.”
For a team offering up as many fresh slogans as the latest snack trend, the Ospreys have sold their product the old-fashioned way – with on court performance. You like defense? How’s holding Mercer and Jacksonville to a combined 5-for-38 from beyond the 3-point arc and 30-for-119 (a 25.2 percent clip) suit you?
If beating the tournament host and biggest rival weren’t enough, the reward awaiting the Ospreys is the conference heavyweight and two-time defending conference champion, ETSU. The Ospreys held a late second-half lead on the Lady Buccaneers when the two met in Jacksonville on Feb. 25
“We had them at our house and we had them down seven and didn’t handle it, their experience just took over,” UNF head coach Mary Tappmeyer said. “It’s going to be a battle of wills tomorrow. We are absolutely the underdog, so the ‘Why Not Us’ factor really plays into it…I like being [the seventh seed]. If there is pressure on a team it’s probably on ETSU. We are in the championship game so we will roll it out tomorrow and see what happens.”
What's your all-time favorite Cinderella moment?