Gators lacrosse wins 18-6 vs. Retrievers

Florida junior, Kitty Cullen, took the ball and sprinted up the middle of the field. As she was approaching two University of Maryland, Baltimore County defenders, she leaned to the left and ran right up the middle and split the two defenders.

With only Cullen and the opposing goalie remaining, the chess match between goal-scorer and goal-protector began. Offense won this battle as Cullen drove the ball into the top left corner of the net for her first goal of the game.

Cullen’s four goals and two assists helped lead the No. 4 Florida Gators Lacrosse team (2-1, 0-0) to a comfortable 18-6 victory over the UMBC Retrievers (0-1, 0-0).

On a cold Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland, Florida was off to a slow start. In the first six minutes, they allowed one goal, turned the ball over twice and had no shots on goal. In the seventh minute though, the

Gators scored their first goal and the Retrievers were never able to recover.

Gators then went on a seven-goal run.

Being sent off with two yellow cards last game, Cullen rebounded nicely with six total points in this game. She was a force to be reckoned with on the opposition’s side of the field. She seemed to be always looking toward the goal.

If she couldn’t score, she found someone who could. Cullen also scored for the Gators in a “man-down” situation.  When one player on a team receives a yellow card, that team must play with one less person for the allotted time.

Cullen scoring in that situation was the first time in school history.

Another major asset for the team, junior transfer Gabi Wiegand, continues to be a crucial part of Florida’s 2012 season.

Wiegand scored three goals and had one assist. This kind of output from Wiegand was unexpected after only having 82 goals in her two seasons at the University of Richmond, but as of now, with nine goals in the first three games for the Gators, Wiegand is the top producer.

Another newcomer stole the spotlight from both Cullen and Wiegand in this game. Freshman Nicole Graziano scored her first career goal as a Florida Gator in the game.

She didn’t stop there. She tallied five goals total on only seven shots to help fuel the Gators down the stretch.

Being born in Mendham, New Jersey and only moving down here less than a year ago, Graziano was used to the chilly weather. She was able to keep her stamina up even in the second half, which is where she scored four of her five goals. She is going to be another key contributor for Florida’s success this season.

For Florida to take that next step toward become a better team, the Gators are going to have to work on decreasing the number of fouls per game. In all three of the Gators’ games, they have had 25 or more fouls.

Fouls could lead to a momentum change for the opponent and also produce disadvantageous man-down opportunities. UMBC capitalized on one of the opportunities by scoring a goal.

Other than the fouling, UF had an impressive day, especially in terms of turnovers. Florida recorded only five turnovers compared to UMBC’s 14. Florida played solid with the ball the whole game, translating into 18 goals.

Once again, the Florida Gators dominated against an unranked opponent. The Gators will be looking forward to coming back to not-so-cold Gainesville, Fla.  this week as they prepare for their two-game home stand this weekend.

The team will start off with Siena on Friday night and Detroit Mercy on Sunday afternoon. The Gators should be able to prevail against both teams. The games should work as practice for the Mar. 3 home meeting against No. 12 Syracuse.

Follow Max Mattern on twitter for more on Florida Lacrosse and Gator Country @MaxMattern