Florida lacrosse named as preseason No. 2

The University of Florida lacrosse team was ranked as the second best team going into the 2011-12 season by Lacrosse Magazine on Wednesday.

The Gators were ranked behind defending National Champion Northwestern Wildcats in the magazine’s Early Top 5 for 2012 list with No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Duke and No. 5 North Carolina rounding out the list.

Florida went 16-4 during its second season, which ended with a loss to Duke in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, just one game away from the Final Four.

The Gators started the season winning their first 12 home games and did win a regular season title in the American Lacrosse Conference after an undefeated 5-0 schedule. They also knocked off three top-10 teams, including then-No. 2 Northwestern on April 14, to claim the conference title.

Following the exciting victory, the Gators rose to No. 2 in the April 25 IWLCA poll, becoming the highest ranked second-year program in NCAA history. The Gators finished the year ranked No. 5.

UF returns all of its starters from 2011, while ushering in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

Kitty Cullen led the nation in scoring throughout the 2011 regular season, finishing the year ranked second in the NCAA in both goals (77) and goal per game (3.85), and fifth in points (86).

Mikey Meagher finished 10th in the country in goals-against average (8.67), while finishing in the top 50 in saves (129) and save percentage (.439).

Additionally, Ashley Bruns ended in the top 20 in both points and assists, claiming 16th in points (74) and 18th in assists (28).

The Gators racked up a plethora of postseason honors following the 2011 season, garnering six All-ALC honors and seven All-America honors.

Cullen was named ALC Player of the Year, while earning three first-team All-America honors, IWLCA first-team All-South Region, first-team All-ALC and a nomination for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award.

Bruns joined Cullen on the All-ALC first team, while earning three third-team All-America honors along with IWLCA second-team All-South Region.

Defender Sam Farrell made the WomensLacrosse.com All-America second team along with the IWLCA All-South Region second team, joining Bruns and Cullen on the All-ALC first team.

Additionally, Janine Hillier, Haydon Judge and Mikey Meagher all received second-team All-ALC honors.

Head Coach Amanda O’Leary was recognized for her outstanding leadership, earning ALC and IWLCA South Region Coach of the Year honors.

In addition to the returning student-athletes, Florida boasts the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, as selected by Inside Lacrosse Magazine.

Four of the Gators’ incoming freshmen, Shannon Gilroy, Nicole Graziano, Nora Barry and Sally Jentis were all ranked in the top 25, while Taylor McCord was named to the Watch List.

The Gators also welcome freshmen Maegan Meritz and Mikki Offit, along with junior Gabi Wiegand, a transfer from the University of Richmond.

The Gators will kick off the fall season on Sept. 30, when they host the Jacksonville University Dolphins in an exhibition game beginning at 5 p.m. The game will feature three 30-minute periods, rather than the standard two. UF will also host the Orange and Blue Scrimmage on Oct. 22, and will head up North for two offseason tournaments in October.

Caroline Cochran Named to 2011 IWLCA Academic Honor Roll

Senior attack Caroline Cochran (Annapolis, Md.) was named to the 2011 IWLCA Academic Honor Roll, honoring student-athletes for their work on the field and in the classroom.

Cochran, the Gators’ lone senior and thus the only member of the team eligible to try for the award, was one of 12 students named to the list out of 176 eligible athletes.

Cochran joined the Florida lacrosse team in its inaugural 2010 season after spending her freshman year at the University of Virginia. She has appeared in 37 games for UF, recording 31 goals and 15 points for a total of 48 career points.

The Annapolis native looks to be the first lacrosse player to graduate from the University of Florida, earning a degree in English in Spring 2012.