Notebook: Florida lacrosse opens season against JU
UF’s Kayla Lewis named SEC women’s basketball Co-Player of the Week
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:31 p.m.
The No. 4 Florida lacrosse team will host Jacksonville at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in the Gators’ 2014 home opener.
UF (0-1) was dealt a 20-8 road defeat at the hands of top-ranked and defending NCAA champion North Carolina in its season-opener Saturday. The Tar Heels only led 6-2 at half, but put in 14 second-half goals to win going away.
“It was a tough game obviously on Saturday,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “We went up to North Carolina with a young team, but no excuses. We have Jacksonville on Wednesday, and that’s a short turnaround for that game.”
With another home game at 1 p.m. Saturday against High Point, O’Leary feels her young team will benefit from a week in friendly surroundings.
“I think home-field advantage is always super-important, especially in a place like our home field,” she said. “Just to be in front of our fans and have that opportunity to compete within the confines of our facility will be nice for our players.”
The Gators (17-7, 7-4) will look to carry the momentum from Sunday’s big 86-80 home win over No. 15 Kentucky to the road when they take on Georgia (15-7, 4-6) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Athens.
UF was solid all the way around in sweeping the Wildcats for the first time since 2004-05, shooting 48.4 percent (31 of 64) from the floor, 45 percent (9 of 20) from 3-point range, and 68.2 percent from the foul line (15 of 22) while recording 13 steals, 17 assists and forcing 18 turnovers.
“I thought we had a total team effort,” said assistant coach David Lowery. “We talked about everybody doing their job, and I thought we had contributions from everybody across the board.”
In related news, redshirt junior Kayla Lewis was named SEC Co-Player of the Week after averaging 16 points and 13.5 rebounds in two games last week while shooting 64.7 percent from the floor and 83.3 percent from the free throw line.
Track & Field
UF track and field athletes will be competing throughout the country this weekend.
Most of the team will head to College Station, Texas, for the Texas A&M Invitational that will be held at the site of this year’s SEC Indoor Championships (Feb. 27-March 1), but the distance runners are headed to the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., an annual showcase event.
In addition, the men’s 800-meter and distance medley relay squads will go to Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Classic, while UF senior standout Cory McGee will run in the Wanamaker Mile at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York.
“It’s another chance for us to get better,” coach Mike Holloway said.
The top-ranked Gators will host No. 11 Arkansas at 7 p.m. Friday.
Florida (5-0, 3-0) is coming off a 197.175-195.45 road win over Kentucky last Friday that was highlighted by sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan’s perfect 10 on the balance beam, just the second in that event (Kristen Stucky, 2004) in program history.
Sloan’s mark gave the Gators four perfect scores this season, the most by any UF squad in one season.
“We had a great competition Friday night at Kentucky,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “I was really proud of the way that the team performed. I felt like that was our best overall performance as far as the improvements that we were looking for, like getting more stuck landings.”
Swimming & Diving
The No. 1 UF men and No. 8 women have their final week of preparation ahead before leaving Sunday for the 2014 SEC Championships in Athens, Ga., which will take place Feb. 18-22.
The Florida men are the defending conference champs, having ended an SEC-record 16-year run of titles by Auburn with last year’s crown, while the UF women will be looking to upset defending SEC and NCAA champ Georgia.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” coach Gregg Troy said. “The championship season is always big in swimming. Everything counts the rest of the way, and we only have two competitions left – the SEC and NCAA meets.”
A young UF squad will be looking to improve on a sixth-place finish at the Sea Best Invitational in the spring opener when they host the 36th SunTrust Gator Invitational Saturday and Sunday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.
A strong field awaits in what is Florida’s only home tournament of the year.
“It’s our only chance to play at home, so obviously our kids are excited about that,” coach Buddy Alexander said. “This year’s field is actually better than in recent years.”
Three talented incoming freshmen will be joining the 2014 Gators in defender/forward Jessie Holmes from Los Gatos, Calif.; forward Cassie Owens from Superior, Colo.; and defender Talise Roman from Napierville, Ill.
“We have a very small class this year with only three players in it,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “That’s a bit of a departure from the past for us, but we’ve kind of made a concerted effort to make our team a little bit smaller. But we think we have a lot of quality in this class.”
In related news, UF opens its spring schedule Saturday at home against Tampa at 7 p.m.