Florida opens lacrosse season

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Florida lacrosse coach Amanda O'Leary. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun/File]

By Jim Harvin, Correspondent

Saturday at noon, the Florida lacrosse team opens the 2020 season by hosting No. 18 Colorado at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

The Gators, coming off a 14-7 season that included a 5-0 mark in the American Athletic Conference a year ago, are ranked No. 14 in the IWLCA preseason poll and were the preseason choice to win the their 10th straight conference title.

Defending national champion Maryland edged No. 2 North Carolina for the top spot.

We lost nine seniors, eight of whom started throughout the season last year, so we’re going to see a lot of new faces out there this year,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “We’ve had a great preseason. Our seniors and our upperclassmen have done a great job of taking those underclassmen and those freshmen under their wings and kind of just doing their thing, making sure that they understand the culture and the work ethic. I’m really excited. It’s going to be a fun opener.”

UF has amassed an overall record of 162-43 (.790) under O’Leary, who is entering her 11th season.

Five players received preseason All-AAC honors with three of them earning note as Preseason Player of the Year: Shannon Kavanagh (Midfielder of the Year), Cara Trombetta (Defender of the Year) and Grace Haus (Attacker of the Year).

Kaitlyn Dabkowski and Brianna Harris join that trio in earning All-Conference kudos.

In addition, Kavanagh and Trombetta were both named Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans.

We are really excited to get started on Saturday,” Kavanagh said. “We’ve been waiting a while for our season opener. It’s really exciting that it’s at home this year. 

We have a lot of new freshmen coming in, so we’re really excited to see our new team play out. We lost a lot of seniors last year and they made a huge impression on our program. But we have 13-14 freshmen that came in and they’re filling the spots pretty well. We also have a lot of players who didn’t get an opportunity to show off last year that are stepping in to fill those positions.”

UF enters the season with a 39-player roster.

Among the new faces is redshirt freshman Sarah Reznick who takes over in goal for graduated All-American Haley Hicklin.

In addition, assistant coaches Taryn Vanthof and Nadine Hadnagy both return and Marci Brown is the Program Coordinator.

I think the mood going into the game Saturday is just excitement,” Trombetta noted. “We’ve worked really hard so far and we’re just ready to put our skills and our abilities to the test and see where we are to just continue for the rest of the season.

Sometimes our hardest competition is ourselves, so we do a lot of competition at practice. It’s frustrating sometimes when you’re playing against girls every day that know your skills and you know theirs. Hopefully we can all put it together against somebody else for a change.”