Top-Ranked Gators Run by Penn State in NCAA Quarterfinals

Gainesville, Fla. – Florida made history once again this afternoon, defeating Penn State, 15-2, in the NCAA Quarterfinals to become the youngest program ever to earn two tournament wins and advance to the National Semifinals.

With the win, the Gators improve to 19-2 on the season, and will face fourth-seeded Syracuse (18-3) on Friday night in Stony Brook, N.Y., in the NCAA Semifinals. Penn State, who came in looking for its first semifinals appearance since 1999, ends the year at 12-7.

“I'm really proud of our program, the players, the coaches, the support staff,” said Head Coach Amanda O'Leary. “This was a monumental win for us. We've been preparing for this since we lost to Duke in this same round last year. These young ladies have put in so much hard work. They have the heart, they have the passion and I thought it really showed today.

“This was 60 minutes of great lacrosse for Florida. I thought our players across the board defensively, in the goal cage, through the midfield, in the attacking end, absolutely I thought this was one of our best efforts.”

Tewaaraton Award finalist Brittany Dashiell (Bel Air, Md.) led the Gators' balanced offense with three goals and two assists on the day. Nora Barry (Marcellus, N.Y.) also notched three goals, and Ashley Bruns (Ellicott City, Md.), Shannon Gilroy (Northport, N.Y.) and Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) each put up two goals and an assist. Additionally, freshman Taylor McCord (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored the final goal of the game in her first career postseason appearance.

Shannon Gilroy dominated on the draw once again, leading the Gators with six draw controls and helping the team to a 15-4 team advantage on draws. With Gilroy in the circle, the Gators have had a 43-11 edge on draw controls over the past three games.

“When the ball is up in the air, we're pretty confident (Shannon)'s going to come up with it,” O'Leary said. “When it's on the wings we have Kayla (Stolins) and Brittany (Dashiell). We have solid group of attackers on the back line and a solid group of defenders who can also compete for those ground balls. Again, draw controls are just so critical because whoever possesses the ball has the opportunity to score.

“I think Shannon's a huge part of that, but I also think that we are maturing through that competitiveness that if there's a ground ball or if the ball is in the air, I see these guys with a hunger of want to get that ground ball and wanting to get that ball in the air, and I think that's one of the biggest improvements to our game.”

Nora Barry was strong in the midfield, earning three draw controls and three ground balls, and Haydon Judge (Chestertown, Md.) and Ashley Bruns each caused a pair of turnovers.

Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) stopped seven shots and allowed just two goals as the Gators held PSU to just nine shots on goal in the game. ALC Goalie of the Year Dana Cahill made 13 stellar saves in the cage for Penn State, but UF's potent offense put up 34 shots on the day, as Cahill retires with a 22-15 career record.

“I credit Penn State with their fantastic game plan,” O'Leary said. “They came in here, worked hard, they were gritty, they were scrappy. Offensively, they kept us on our heels; defensively, I thought Dana Cahill did a fantastic job in the goal cage so I just want to credit them with a game very well played.

Haley Ford and Lizzy Carney scored the Nittany Lions' two goals and Mackenzie Cyr notched their sole assist. Freshman Tatum Coffee challenged in the midfield, earning two ground balls, a draw control and a caused turnover.

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