Florida lacrosse faces England


Florida goalie Mikey Meagher, left, and Florida open the regular season against North Carolina on Feb.11.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 12:13 a.m.

Tea and crumpets anyone?

Facts

Today's match

Who: Florida vs. English National Team
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Donald R. Dizney Stadium

The English women's national team is in town to provide the opposition for the Florida lacrosse team in an exhibition match at UF's Donald R. Dizney Stadium at 6:30 this evening.

While the season opener at North Carolina Feb. 11 is still more than two weeks away, head coach Amanda O'Leary is anxious to see how her Gators, ranked No. 5 in the preseason by Lacrosse Magazine, handle the challenge of playing a top-flight international opponent.

“England is our first international competition ever, so we're very, very excited to hit the field,” she said. “I think we're just looking to see where we are at this point in time. We've been practicing for about two and a half weeks, so I think it's going to be a good gauge as to where we are offensively.”




The Gators are coming off a record-setting second season in which they posted seven wins against ranked teams en route to rising to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association top 10 faster than any team in poll history.

UF became the highest-ranked, second-year program ever on April 25, 2011, when Florida was ranked No. 2 following an upset of powerhouse Northwestern, winner of six of the last seven NCAA titles. It was the Wildcats' first American Lacrosse Conference regular-season loss since 2004.

The Gators went on to win their first ALC regular-season crown with a perfect 5-0 league ledger and earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament, where No. 4 seed UF defeated No. 7 Stanford, 13-11, before falling to No. 5 Duke, 13-9, in the quarterfinals.

Florida returns 17 players from that 16-4 squad, including 11 starters, while adding the nation's No. 3-ranked recruiting class. Leading the way are three juniors who earned first-team All-ALC honors in attackers Kitty Cullen and Ashley Bruns and defender Sam Farrell.

Cullen, a first-team All-America who finished second in the nation in goals (77) and fifth in points (86), was the 2011 ALC Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, soccer's version of the Heisman. Farrell earned second-team All-America honors while Bruns was a third-team honoree.

UF's home opener is Feb. 15 against Jacksonville, and the Gators will host the ALC Tournament for the first time May 3-5.

“We're looking forward to the season,” said O'Leary, the 2011 ALC Coach of the Year.

“We're still very young. It's one of those things where we need to stay healthy. Hopefully we'll be very successful.”

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