UF lacrosse hands No. 10 Dartmouth first loss

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 11:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 11:23 p.m.

No. 5 Florida scored a school-record 17 goals in the first half and held No. 10 Dartmouth scoreless through the final 37 minutes of play to hand the Big Green their first loss of the season, 20-4.

With the win, the Gators improve to 9-2, while Dartmouth drops to 5-1.

“I'm really thrilled with the win,” said UF coach Amanda O'Leary. “Dartmouth is the 10th-ranked team in the country. Our team came out of the locker room really pumped and ready to go with some quick goals on the board early, and I thought we just rode that momentum throughout the game. Just a really solid 60 minutes of play from our team.”

Kitty Cullen tied her career highs with eight points and three ground balls, leading the team with five goals and three assists. Brittany Dashiell followed with three goals and two assists, Ashley Bruns and Gabi Wiegand each had four goals, and Caroline Chesterman notched two goals and two assists. Shannon Gilroy and Nora Barry scored the remaining points, each contributing a goal and an assist.

Sam Farrell shined on defense, grabbing five ground balls and causing two turnovers, while holding Big Green leading scorer Sarah Plumb to just one shot on goal and no points. Barry had a strong performance in the midfield, earning four groundballs and five draw controls.

Mikey Meagher got the starting nod for the Gators, playing the first 21:53 and allowing three goals before being replaced by Cara Canington, who allowed one more in the final 8:07. Meagher returned at the top of the second half, shutting out the Big Green through the entire second stanza while making eight saves.

Hana Bowers led the Big Green offense, scoring two goals in the first half. Lindsey Allard and Erin Massimi scored the remaining two, and Liz Calby and Casey Griffin each put up an assist. Starting keeper Kristen Giovanniello, who entered the game leading the nation with a .548 save percentage, allowed 17 goals in 55:12 while stopping 11 shots. Freshman Jessica Frieder made her collegiate debut late in the first half, earning two saves and allowing three goals in the final 4:48 of the first, before Giovanniello returned after halftime.

“I think all of the attackers worked really hard to try to get the ball back as much as possible, and keep it in our offensive (end),” Cullen said. “The first couple of games we've had this season it was down on defense a lot, and the defenders were working so hard. We were kind of throwing the ball away when we got it. So I think today we worked really hard, and the defenders got a break.”

Tuesday night's game marks the program-record fifth time this season the Gators have scored at least 20 points in a game and the most points ever scored against a ranked opponent. Florida's 17 points in the first half eclipses the Gators' previous record of 15 in a half, which they had achieved twice before, including earlier this month against Temple. Additionally, the Gators held an opponent scoreless through an entire half for the third time in team history.

The Gators open American Lacrosse Conference play on the road this weekend, traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 15 Ohio State. The Gators and the Buckeyes will play at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Opening draw is set for 1 p.m.

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