Gilroy, Bruns take down Penn State, treat O'Leary to 200th career win
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 2, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.
When asked what it meant to give head coach Amanda O'Leary career victory No. 200, Florida junior All-America Ashley Bruns was all smiles.
“Oh my gosh, it was incredible,” Bruns said. “We are so proud of her. We love her as a coach and we don't want anybody else to coach us but her, so we're really happy today.”
Bruns scored four goals to go with freshman Shannon Gilroy's career-high five goals as the No. 4 Gators improved to 12-2 overall and 2-0 in American Lacrosse Conference play with an impressive 20-11 win over No. 10 Penn State Sunday on Beat Cancer with a Stick Day.
Freshmen Nora Barry and Nicole Graziano each scored three goals and junior Brittany Dashiell added two goals and two assists for the Gators, who won their eighth straight game while ending a four-game winning streak for Penn State (8-3, 1-1) before a Donald R. Dizney Stadium crowd of 840.
Senior Theresa Zichelli had three goals and junior Molly Fernandez added two for the Nittany Lions.
O'Leary, who is now 200-79 in her career, was 162-65 in 14 seasons at Yale University before coming to UF, where she has posted a 38-14 record to date. With Sunday's win, she is the 12th women's lacrosse coach in NCAA history to earn 200 Division I career victories.
“You credit these young women who work so hard day in and day out,” O'Leary said. “These victories are not self-earned. We have a great support staff. This is a total team win, and you don't get those as head coaches without tremendous assistant coaches, so I really feel blessed. The University of Florida just provides you with all these opportunities to earn 200 wins, so I have to credit everyone else.”
The Nittany Lions took a quick 3-1 lead less than five minutes into the game, but Dashielle's unassisted goal with 23:52 left in the first half cut the lead to 3-2 and ignited a 6-0 Gator run that was aided by four Penn State yellow cards in a span of just over five minutes. UF scored on all four man-advantage opportunities.
Florida's defense, led by Sam Farrell, Emily Dohony, Jamie Reeg, Hayden Judge and Kayla Stollins and goalkeeper Mikey Meagher — all juniors — did the rest, holding the Nittany Lions scoreless for more than 11 minutes as the Gators, who led 11-6 at the half, took control for good.
“They kind of threw us off our toes a little bit,” said Meagher, who finished with seven saves before being replaced by fellow junior Cara Canington with a little more than 12 minutes left to play.
“But the one good thing I love about the defense is we can come together, talk it out and just be ready for the next one. Every single game, they (back line) come out and compete. You can't ever ask for more from them because they run as hard as they possibly can all game long.”
UF, which owned a 43-22 advantage in shots, scored at least 20 goals for the seventh time this season and fourth time in the last five outings despite Penn State coming into the game ranked 11th in the nation in scoring defense (8.60) and senior Dana Cahill, the 2011 ALC Goalie of the Year, coming into the game with an 8.54 goals-against average that ranked 13th nationally.
“(UF assistants) Caitlyn (McFadden) and Erica (LaGrow) have been working really hard on setting up plays to make us really advance to the next level,” Bruns said. “We just do what they tell us, and we come out with these awesome plays and great shots in putting them in the back of the net.”
The Gators travel to ALC foe Johns Hopkins for their next action this Saturday.