SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The most successful season in the Virginia men’s golf program’s history ended with a close loss to Florida during the quarterfinal round of match play at the NCAA Championships. The seventh-seeded Cavaliers lost to the second-seeded Gators 3-2 during the final match that was not decided until the 18th hole.

Virginia made its first appearance in match play since the NCAA adopted that format to decide the team national champion in 2009. The Cavaliers’ previous-best finish was a 10th-place showing in 2017. It was also Florida’s first time playing in the match play round at the national championship tournament.

The Cavaliers put the first point on the board when freshman Bryan Lee handed newly-crowned NCAA individual champion Fred Biondi a 6&5 defeat. Lee picked up wins on the third, fourth, seventh and ninth holes to be 4Up after the opening nine. Wins on 10 and 11 increased his lead to 6Up as he cruised to the victory, never losing a hole to Biondi.

Shortly afterwards, John DuBois put Florida on the board with a 3&2 win against Pietro Bovari. DuBois won two of the first three holes but Bovari battled back twice to even the match and that’s where it stood when the two competitors made the turn. Dubois picked up a win on the 10th hole and then put the match away with victories on 15 and 16.

UVA’s Deven Patel and the Gators’ Matthew Kress battled back-and-four in their match with neither golfer gaining more than a one-hole advantage until Kress picked up back-to-back wins on 14 and 15. Patel roared back with three consecutive victories to put UVA ahead 2-1 with his 1Up win.

Ricky Castillo defeated UVA freshman Ben James 6&5 to even the score again. Castillo won the first hole and never trailed in their match.

The deciding point came from Florida’s Yuxin Lin who rallied to defeat George Duangmanee 2Up. After winning the second hole, Duangmanee kept the lead through 15 holes, leading at one point 3Up through 11 holes. Lin rallied to win the final three holes and secure the victory for the Gators.

“We played with Florida a couple of times this year in tournaments and there is no doubt they’re a great team,” Sargent said. “We don’t have a lot of match play experience on this team, but we were not intimidated today. We were expecting to win and had ourselves in that position. We had them down with three or four holes to go and were in control of the match. But congratulation to Florida. They did what they needed to do to advance.”Florida was set to meet Florida State in Tuesday afternoon’s semifinal match.

In the other match play results, top-seeded North Carolina defeated Arizona State 3-1 and Georgia Tech downed Pepperdine 3-2. The match play finals are scheduled for Wednesday.

“It was a record year in a number of ways,” Sargent said. “We reached number-one in the nation for the first time back in the fall. We went to match play for the first time at ACCs and also here. We had the highest NCAA finish in the program’s history. We set a high bar this year for the program and accomplished a lot of great things. Hopefully Ben will go on to win freshman of the year and that will be another tremendous accomplishment. It was a wonderful year when you look it at as a whole.”

Virginia reached match play thanks to a seventh-place finish in stroke play. The Cavaliers shot 3-under 277 during Monday’s final round, its best 18-hole score during the four rounds of stroke play. The Cavaliers 72-hole total was 11-over 1131. Ranked No. 16, UVA was the lowest ranked team to advance out of stroke play.

James led UVA in stroke play with a sixth-place finish at 4-under 276, including a final-round score of 68. It marked the 11th time in 13 tournaments this season that James was a top-six finisher.

Lee was 22nd overall at 2-over 282. He shot 69 during the final round. He was the third-highest finishing freshman in the field. Patel was 52nd at 288, Bovari was 58th at 290 and Duangmanee was 79th at 297.

For next season, UVA returns everyone but Bovari from its NCAA roster.

“I thought we played really well except for maybe one day in stroke play,” Sargent said. “From top to bottom, every day, we were pretty consistent. To make it to the second-to-last day of the college golf season, that’s quite an accomplishment.”