Top-Ranked Gators Run by Penn State in NCAA Quarterfinals

Shannon Gilroy got the ball rolling just over two minutes in, beating out a one-on-one drive and putting the ball into the top left corner of the net. Less than a minute later, Gilroy was fouled at the top of the fan, and laced in goal number two to give Florida a quick, 2-0 lead.

Haley Ford netted a crossing shot for the Nittany Lions at 22:46, but Florida followed with a 5-0 run featuring a pair of goals each from Dashiell and Bruns to power ahead, 7-1.

“It's definitely a huge boost and a huge spark,” said Cullen on making a big run. “Mikey will make a save at one end and it will get us more pumped up and want to score and keep scoring; and once you score once and get the ball again, you just want to keep going and keep going, because then we're going to get up by even more.”

Mackenzie Cyr set up Lizzy Carney from the point at 6:03 to get one back for Penn State, but Cullen put one up with 23 seconds remaining in the half to enter the break holding a solid, 8-2 lead.

The Gators defense was lights out in the second half, keeping the Nittany Lions off the board for the final 36 minutes of play, marking just the fifth time in NCAA Tournament history that a team has been held scoreless in the second half.

“The defense is incredible,” said goalkeeper Mikey Meagher, “Every game they just get better. To have those seven in front of me, I love them. You can't ask for anything more of them, because they just go out with such heart and hustle every single game and no matter what they do, I know they have my back and I have theirs.”

UF's attackers found the back of the net seven times in the second half, with the final four goals of the game coming from Gator rookies Nora Barry, Nicole Graziano (Mendham, N.J.) and Taylor McCord, to earn a final score of 15-2.

“I think it's exciting and it's wonderful,” O'Leary said of the team's accomplishment, “but I think its more of a testament to the University of Florida, Jeremy Foley, to these young ladies, to our coaching staff, to our support staff, because it's a whole group of individuals. Its just not one person that decides that we're going to make it to the Final Four, it starts at the top and it goes all the way down and I think these guys have bought into our system.”

The Gators will hit the road for Stony Brook, N.Y., this week to face fourth-seeded Syracuse University (18-3) in the NCAA Semifinals on Friday, May 25. The Orange defeated fifth-seeded North Carolina this afternoon in a nail-biting 17-16 contest, as Tewaaraton finalist Michelle Tumolo put up the game-winner with just five seconds remaining in regulation.

The University of Maryland was the first team to advance this afternoon, defeating Loyola, 17-11, and will face the winner of tonight's quarterfinal match-up between Northwestern and Duke in the other semifinal game. The first semifinal will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the second game beginning at approximately 8:00 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN3.

“We're so blessed here,” said O'Leary. “We have tremendous fans who come out each and every game so it's a tremendous accomplishment and one that I'm incredibly, incredibly proud of. But we have some more work today and I hope that I can stand up here in a little while and say this wasn't the most proud moment. We still have a couple more.”

* * * *

GAINESVILLE, Fla.; May 19, 2012 – Penn State's 2012 season came to end on Saturday afternoon, as the Nittany Lions bowed out of the NCAA Championship with a 15-2 quarterfinal loss to No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Florida (19-2) at the Gators' Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville.

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