In their second year of existence, it’s not surprising the Florida Gators lacrosse team is making a little bit of school history.
It’s shocking how quickly they’re writing and rewriting it.
After rising as high as No. 2 nationally in the regular season, the Gators entered the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament as the top seed and the favorites to capture the title.
After knocking off fourth-seeded Ohio State 16-13 Friday, Florida advanced to its first-ever ALC Tournament final.
They will meet second-seeded Northwestern, who beat third-seeded Penn State 14-3.
The Gators and the Wildcats played a thrilling 13-11game earlier in the season that Florida was able to cling onto for the win. The two squads will play in a championship rematch at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
With the win over Ohio State, Florida improved to 15-2 on the season.
The Gators by sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns and sophomore midfielder Janine Hillier with six points apiece, both with four goals and two assists.
Hillier’s goal and point totals were new career bests and her two assists tied her current career-high. She was also three-for-three from free position.
Kitty Cullen, a nominee for the nation’s best player award, the Tewaaraton, had a hat trick for the 15th time this year, adding an assist, two draw controls, a ground ball and a caused turnover.
Sophomore midfielder Brittany Dashiell had two goals and a game-high five draw controls and three ground balls.
Sophomore attacker Caroline Chesterman, junior attacker Caroline Cochran and sophomore midfielder Colby Rhea each added a goal.
The Gators got out to a 5-0 lead sparked by Rhea’s score from Bruns two minutes into the game. Cullen found the back of the net less than a minute later to put Florida ahead by two.
Hillier began her scoring tear with a goal from free position 5:03 into the game. She then found the back of the net on another free position after Ohio State’s Kirsten Donahue received a yellow card defending her.
Bruns scored a goal of her own a little more than 10 minutes into the game to put the Gators ahead 5-0. The Buckeyes were able to slow the Gators’ scoring thanks to goals by Maghan Beaudrault and Gabby Capuzzi from Brittney Zerhusen and Jayme Beard, respectively.
Cullen answered for the Gators as she scored off free position, and Bruns scored from Hillier to stretch the Gators’ lead back to five.
Beard scored again for the Buckeyes before Florida was able to gain its biggest lead of the game behind a goal from Bruns and a Chesterman goal from Hillier.
Ohio State took over scoring for nearly the rest of the half, as Donahue, Zerhusen and Jacqueline Orona assisted the Buckeyes into cutting the Florida lead to three at 9-6. Cullen had the final goal of the half, unassisted, to put give the Gators a 10-6 halftime lead.
Florida got off to a good second-half start, as Hillier scored unassisted less than two minutes into the half and Dashiell scored back-to-back goals, one from free position and the other on a feed
from Bruns, putting Florida ahead 13-6.
Ohio State didn’t back down, going on a 5-0 run behind Orona, Beaudrault, Beard and first-team All-ALC attacker Alayna Markwordt. The Buckeyes pulled within two, 13-11, keeping possession more than 10 minutes.
Hillier ended the Gators’ scoring draught, scoring from free position to put Florida back on the board with less than 10 minutes to play.
Markwordt scored again unassisted before Bruns scored her fourth goal of the game from Cullen to get ahead, 15-12.
Ohio State changed goalies late in the game and Cochran was able to score on an open goal as their second goalkeeper.
The Gators outshot the Buckeyes, 29-24 and won the battle on the ground, scooping 15 ground balls to Ohio State’s 12. Ohio State had 13 turnovers to Florida’s five, their lowest total this year.