No. 3 Florida Opens 2013 Season Sat. at No. 5 North Carolina

GAINESVILLE, Fla. The No. 3 University of Florida lacrosse team will open its 2013 regular season schedule on Saturday as it travels to Chapel Hill, N.C. for a contest with No. 5 North Carolina. Opening draw is set for noon on ESPN3.

It marks the third season in a row the two teams have met for the Gators' season opener. Last season, the Orange and Blue fell behind in the first half and couldn't recover as they dropped an 11-9 decision to the Tar Heels.

Both teams are ranked in the top five in the media and coaches' preseason polls. The Gators turned in No. 3 rankings in both the Inside Lacrosse/deBeer media poll and IWLCA poll while the Tar Heels came in at No. 5 in both.

UNC, the reigning ACC champs, returns nine starters from the 2012 season where they went 15-4 and a perfect 5-0 in the ACC. They fell to Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in a 17-16 overtime contest.

The Gators are coming off the most successful season in program history in 2012, where they posted a 19-3 overall record and 5-0 ALC record en route to both the regular season and tournament championships. They earned the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the national semifinals.

They nearly all starters from a season ago, including Tewaaraton finalist midfielder Brittany Dashiell ( Bel Air, Md.), All-American senior attacker Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) and ALC Rookie of the Year Nora Barry (Marcellus, N.Y.) on offense. IWLCA Goalie of the Year senior Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) and senior All-American defenders Sam Farrell (Millersviille, Md.) and Jamie Reeg (Atlantis, Fla.) anchor the defensive attack. Twelve freshmen will also make their regular season debuts for the Orange and Blue on Saturday.

The Gators held their lone exhibition game of the season on January 24 when the England National Team returned to Gainesville for the second-straight year. UF outlasted the Brits in an 18-13 exhibition win.

North Carolina, the reigning ACC champions return nine starters from a season ago, when they finished 15-4 overall and 5-0 in conference play. They fell to Syracuse in the NCAA quarterfinals in a 17-16 overtime loss.

The No. 5 Tar Heels return nine starters from the 2012 season led by junior attacker Abbey Friend and senior midfielder Kara Cannizzaro. Friend led the Tar Heels with 52 goals last season and distributed eight assists, while Cannizzaro also chipped in 42 goals, 23 caused turnovers and 26 ground balls. Senior goalkeeper Lauren Maskym returns to the cage for her final season. She recorded 102 saves last season.

As a team, UNC ranked among the top in a variety of offensive and defensive categories in 2012 including third in scoring defense (7.68 ggp.),ninth in caused turnovers (9.39), 15th in points (348), and tied for 17th in scoring (13.21 gpg.).

2013-02-07



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