Florida lacrosse seeks revenge against Syracuse
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 8:24 p.m.
All season long, the Florida lacrosse team has been pushed by the motto of “Unfinished Business.”
Who: Florida (18-2) at Syracuse (17-3)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
TV: Sun Sports
Saturday at 2 p.m., the No. 5 seed Gators square off against the team that brought about that motivational slogan when they take on host and No. 4 seed Syracuse in an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal match.
The game will be televised live by Sun Sports, with the winner advancing to the NCAA final four in Villanova, Pa., May 24-26, while the loser goes home.
“It’s a great matchup for us,” UF coach Amanda O’Leary said. “It’s always an exciting game. We’ve played them plenty of times, and it’s been competitive each and every game.”
A year ago, the Orange staged a stirring comeback to rally from a seven-goal deficit to knock off the top-seeded Gators and spoil their first national semifinal experience with a 14-13, double-overtime win in the NCAA semifinals.
Florida (18-2), a fourth-year program in its third straight Elite Eight, got a measure of revenge earlier this season with a hard-fought, 14-10 win in Miami back on March 2, but UF will have to come up with one of its best road performances to take down the Orange in SU’s famed Carrier Dome.
Syracuse (17-3) has won 12 games in a row while holding opponents to less than 10 goals in all 12 victories.
“They’ve definitely gotten a lot better,” O’Leary said. “They lost one of their best players (Michelle Tumolo, ACL), but it doesn’t even look like they’ve missed a beat. Alyssa Murray and Kayla Treanor are two of the top attackers in the country, and they are going to provide us with a challenge. Their midfield is very fast and they have great team speed across the board, so it’s a big challenge for us.”
Murray, a junior who is one of five Tewaaraton Award finalists, leads the Orange with 100 points (61 goals, 39 assists), while Treanor leads them in goals with 64. Her 85 points make her the highest scoring freshman in SU history.
Defensively, Syracuse is led by senior Becca Block, who leads the team in ground balls (44) and caused turnovers (28) and has a team-leading 69 draw controls, the No. 2 all-time single-season mark for SU.
“Syracuse is a very good, talented and fast team,” said UF senior All-American goalkeeper Mikey Meagher, herself a Tewaaraton Award finalist who was recently named the national goalie of the year.
“It’s just one more piece to the puzzle of what we’re trying to accomplish. We just have to take it one play at a time and one defensive set at a time, and I think we’ll be OK.”
The Gators, who have the nation’s fourth highest-scoring offense (15.05 goals per game) and second-best scoring defense (6.5 gpg), will counter with a balanced attack that features five players with 50 or more points this season, led by senior All-American and American Lacrosse Conference Offensive Player of the Year Kitty Cullen with 66 points (48 goals, 18 assists).
Sophomore All-American Shannon Gilroy and senior Ashley Bruns each have a team-high 50 goals this season and have posted 62 and 61 points, respectively, while senior Brittany Dashiell, UF’s top all-around player and the ALC Midfielder of the Year, has 31 goals, 21 assists, 54 draw controls, 24 ground balls and has caused 24 turnovers.
“It’s going to be a very tough matchup,” Dashiell said. “We are both very competitive teams, and I think we match up very well against each other. We’re really excited to play them again.
“We’re excited to play in the dome. We’ve never been there. It will be a different setup for us, but we’re excited about the challenge of playing this game and getting back to the final four.”