Gators jump out early, roll Nittany Lions 13-9
Published: Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 5:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 5:07 p.m.
For the latter half of this week, Gainesville was soaked in heavy downpours and weather that left deep, heavy clouds scattered in the sky.
On Sunday, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, and the No. 4 Gators brought a game that matched the flawless weather as they rolled to a 13-9 win over No. 11 Penn State.
“I think we had a solid first half,” said UF coach Amanda O’Leary, who saw her team improve to 12-2 overall and to 3-0 in the ALC. “We scored in transition and scored in our settled offense. I thought our defense stepped up and played really well in the first half and, you know, in the locker room we kind of talked about that they’re going to adjust. They’re not going to come out with the same game plan.”
Those adjustments came when it looked as if Florida left the energy at home after registering just one shot on goal and four turnovers in the first eight minutes. Penn State (7-4, 2-1) added to the reasons for pessimism by striking first on a goal by junior attacker Maggie McCormick.
But it was a point-blank save by Gators sophomore goalie Mary-Sean Wilcox at 23:12 that eventually got the momentum back on the home team’s side for good.
It started with a free position shot from sophomore attacker Devon Schneider to get the score tied up. From there, it was a flurry of goals that quelled any hope for an upset.
Florida proceeded to rack up goals from sophomore middle Sam Darcangelo, Schneider, junior middle Shannon Gilroy, freshman middle Mollie Stevens and sophomore attacker Carly Ross to jump out to a 6-1 lead in less than 10 minutes.
“I think we figured out their defense,” Stevens said. “We were trying to feed the inside a lot and it wasn’t working … when you play a team that’s face-guarding, it’s harder for them to slide because they’re playing off.
“So, we just figured out where the open player was when they slided and we were able to get them the ball and get it in the goal.”
The Nittany Lions threatened to make it more like a contest between two top 12-ranked teams and less of a blowout by making it 6-3, but the Gators’ quick striking offense scored four more times before the half was over, including twice in the final 22 seconds.
The only question in the second half was if, like the weather, Florida would hold up. The skies stayed clear and Florida did, too, adding another three goals to earn the team’s fourth win over a top-20 team this season.
UF will next travel to Baltimore, Md., on Saturday for a noon ALC match against No. 9 Johns Hopkins.
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