UF lacrosse outpaces Albany in NCAA opener


Florida's Nicole Graziano tries to run past University at Albany defender Lexi Brannigan during the first round of the Women's NCAA Lacrosse Championships on Saturday, May 12, 2012 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated UAlbany 6-4.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 6:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 6:34 p.m.

This time around, the hare beat the tortoise.

The Florida women's lacrosse team scored each of its opening three goals within a minute of possession to negate the University at Albany's stalling offense. The top-seeded Gators won their 14th-straight game and sped away with a 6-4 NCAA Tournament opening-round win on Saturday afternoon at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Holding the ball on offense for several minutes at a time, the Great Danes (12-6) still fell behind 4-1 in the first half on early, quick-strike Florida goals. Freshman midfielder Nora Barry, dashing in from the top left, found the back of UAlbany's net just 36 seconds into the game.

After more than six minutes of idle passing by the Great Danes, junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell doubled the Gators' lead following a behind-the-goal pass from Ashley Bruns.

UAlbany's slow pace, however, held the Gators (18-2) to a season-low 12 shots and allowed the Great Danes to pull within two goals with less than five minutes remaining.

"I don't think everything went as we scripted, but we came out, played hard and came away with the win," said Florida coach Amanda O'Leary. "It was a great game plan, clearly. They were able to maintain possession and work for the perfect shot and a bunch of times, they were able to convert on it."

Ohio State deployed a similarly slow office last week in the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament, so junior defender Sam Farrell and her teammates knew how to react.

“When they do that, it's really important to continue to keep on talking to each other and keep the energy up,” she said. “We have to know that at any minute, they are going to get us in a lull and any minute they can go to goal.”

UAlbany coach John Battaglino said it "burns every bone" in his body to play at such an excruciatingly slow tempo, but it was the only tactic that gave his team a chance. The Great Danes outscored Florida 3-2 in the second half.

"We don't have the bodies right now to run up and down with Florida, especially in this heat," he said. "We kind of felt them out and gave them a couple early, then engaged them and played to our level.”

Freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy led Florida with two goals. Kitty Cullen finished with a goal and an assist.

Florida will play Penn State (12-6) in the second round, after the Nittany Lions upended eighth-seeded Towson 15-8. The Gators beat Penn State 20-11 earlier this season, and will host the rematch at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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