With North Dakota State University winning the D-II National Championship, the 2018 MCLA season has come to a close. Here is a look back on the University of North Florida Ospreys season.
North Florida's season began with the SELC voting them back into the MCLA with a unanimous vote. From that moment on it was time to see what the newcomers had. In the pre-season coaches poll the Ospreys were picked to finish fifth in the south division and not make the playoff.
Ospreys quickly turned some heads with their season opener coming down to the wire in a 16-14 loss to D1 opponent Florida. Following the season opener, UNF would knock off three straight divisional opponents in College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern. Garrett Arnold received D-II national player of the week honors for his efforts. With the three division victories, the Ospreys already found themselves one divisional win away from clinching an SELC playoff berth.
That coveted win came on February 24th when the Ospreys downed the FAU Owls 12-3 at home to clinch the programs second ever playoff berth and first since 2009. In the following game the Ospreys would lose a heart breaker in OT to UNCC in the second game of the day.
The following week the Ospreys had their third double header in as many weeks against two opponents ranked in the National Coaches Poll top 25 at the time. North Florida would down the No. 18 Ragin' Cajuns 14-4 in the first game of the day before taking on the No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. In what has become a heated rivalry, the Ospreys and Eagles faced off in the defacto South Division Championship. Unfortunately for the Ospreys, FGCU pulled away in the fourth quarter with a 9-7 win.
Following an impressive showing against two ranked teams, North Florida found themselves ranked No. 24 in the nation when the rankings came out the following week. UNF would go on to win out their next four games in dominating fashion despite losing two starters for the season with a combined score of 85-28. Among those four games was two victories over D1 opponents University of Miami and South Florida.
The Ospreys finished the regular season with a 9-4 record and 5-1 in the division, capturing the two seed in the South. Despite having two starters out for the game and losing our senior president and captain one minute in, the Ospreys posted a valiant effort in a 10-9 playoff loss to Appalachian St.
While it was a tough way for it to end , the Ospreys had an impressive season climbing as high as No. 22 and finishing No. 25 in the Nation. Seven players were awarded with All-Conference honors including Jason Randolph (1st Team Mid), Garrett Arnold (2nd Team Att), Michael Leary (2nd Team Def), Tye McGhee (2nd Team DM), Ryan Pasinski (3rd Team Att), Zach Prince (HM Def), and Alec Noble (HM Mid). North Florida's Head Coach Tucker Clancy was voted SELC Coach of the Year. After posting a 9-5 record, the North Florida Ospreys go into the 2019 season with high expectations. With the Ospreys only losing one senior and bringing in a deep and talented freshman class- North Florida will have their eyes on the 2019 SELC Conference Championship.