No. 3 Florida Overwhelms No. 4 Northwestern on Senior Day

GAINESVILLE, Fla. As 13 seniors played their final regular-season home game, No. 3 Florida lacrosse rose to the challenge as it overwhelmed No. 4 Northwestern, 22-4, Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. With the win, Florida shares a portion of the ALC title with the Wildcats; marking their third-consecutive regular season championship in their four-year history.

The Gators (16-1, 4-1 ALC) hand the two-time defending national champion Wildcats (13-2, 4-1 ALC) their most lopsided loss in program history on a flurry of goals, shooting 22 for 28 (.785) in front of a season-high 1,023 fans on a cold, rainy day in Gainesville. UF was led by sophomore midfielder Shannon Gilroy (Northport, N.Y.) who scored seven points (five goals, two assists) while six other Gators scored multiple goals.

"This group has worked so hard day in and day out and it's just a testament to our seniors," Head coach Amanda O'Leary said. "For them to come out and play the way they did and with the supporting cast, I thought it was just a great job by everyone today."

Senior attack Gabi Wiegand (Bay Shore, N.Y.) added five points (four goals, one assist) while senior midfielder Brittany Dashiell (Bel Air, Md.) became the first Gator to record 200 career draw controls. Dashiell recorded a team-high seven draws for the second-consecutive game and paired it with a hat trick to help the Gators extend their home win streak to 18. They also concluded the regular season 9-0 at home, the first undefeated season and most wins at Dizney Stadium in a season.

Senior attacks Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) and Ashley Bruns (Ellicott City, Md.) each had three goals while Cullen dished out two assists as Florida matched its season-high in goals with 22. Senior attack Caroline Chesterman (South Nyack, N.Y.) and sophomore midfielder Nora Barry (Marcellus, N.Y.) each had two goals, rounding out the scoring for the afternoon.

Florida got off to a quick start with Gilroy scoring just 30 seconds into the contest on a Gilroy goal. It was followed 31 seconds later by Wiegand to jump start the Gators offense for the afternoon. They would score five unanswered goals before Northwestern's Taylor Thornton got on the board on a free position with 17:59 to play. Cullen and Bruns assisted by Barry scored back-to-back 11 seconds apart to respond putting their team up 8-1.

UF assisted on 11 goals on the afternoon, marking a season-high and tied for the second-most in a single game in program history. Dashiell led the way with a career-high three assists while Barry, Cullen and Gilroy each found teammates on two.

Northwestern scored its only other goal of the game on an Erin Fitzgerald free position with 13:24 to play as the Orange and Blue closed the half on a 5-0 run taking a 13-2 lead at the break. UF opened the second half with goals from Wiegand and Dashiell before NU's Fitzgerald found the back of the net again with 24:47 to play.

UF's defense didn't disappoint either as it forced eight turnovers and held the Wildcats to just four shots in the second half. Senior defender Kayla Stolins (Glen Arm, Md.) and junior defender Krista Grabher (Vero Beach, Fla.) each caused two turnovers with Dashiell and Barry each picking up three ground balls. Senior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) recorded five saves in the net for the Gators with four of them in the first half.

"I thought we did a great job all around on defense," O'Leary said. "We had early slides all-around on their best attackers and Mikey played a great game in goal, so I think it was a total team effort."

Florida improves to 4-2 all-time against Northwestern, winning the last three meetings. Penn State could also share a portion of the league title with a win at Johns Hopkins in their final conference game of the season.

The Gators will have the week off before heading to the ALC tournament in Baltimore, Md. on May 2-5 at Johns Hopkins.

2013-04-20



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