UF lacrosse lashes champs, 22-4
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 12:13 a.m.
The most anticipated Florida lacrosse match of the season turned out to be one of the Gators' most dominant. Considering who their opponent was Saturday made it even more impressive.
The No. 3 Gators scored 22 goals against No. 4 Northwestern while senior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher allowed just four goals against the defending NCAA champions.
It was a triumphant Senior Day. The 22-4 win meant the Gators (16-1, 4-1 ALC) claimed at least a share of the American Lacrosse Conference regular-season title.
“Offensively through the midfield transition we just did a great job,” Gators coach Amanda O'Leary said. “(They) prepared all week for transition goals, fast-break goals and they executed.”
Executed would be an understatement. The Gators had a 3-0 lead just 1:26 into the contest — two goals by senior Gabi Wiegand and one by sophomore Shannon Gilroy.
Florida converted 13 of its 16 first-half shots (81 percent) for a 13-2 halftime lead. Northwestern's goals against average coming into Saturday was seven. The Gators had their seventh goal — senior Kitty Cullen's 38th of the season — just 16 minutes in.
Three Gators players — Gilroy (five goals, 44 on the year), Cullen (three, 40) and Ashley Bruns (three, 40) — hit or passed the 40-goal mark for the season. Wiegand scored four goals (33), Brittany Dashiell had three (28) while Nora Barry (22) and Caroline Chesterman (11) had two goals each.
Defensively, the Gators were in lock-down mode. Northwestern (13-2, 4-1) averaged nearly 14 goals a game coming into the season finale.
“We got in their heads early,” said Meagher, who faced 18 shots and made five saves. “Our offense fed off of us and we fed off of them.”
The 13 seniors, who have a career record of 61-16, made their mark on the program, building it from the ground up. Saturday's effort was an emphatic stamp for Gator lacrosse
“We often talked about them as trailblazers because they took a chance,” O'Leary said. “They came here (instead of tradition-laden programs like Maryland and Johns Hopkins). We had no facilities, no field, no lacrosse tradition and they bought into a dream that we will coach them the best we can and the administration will provide them with all of the necessary things to compete at the highest level. I feel like we have delivered and they certainly have delivered.”
The Gators will have the week off before heading to the ALC tournament in Baltimore on May 2-5 at Johns Hopkins.