The Gators (7-1) have been on a roll for the past month, racking up seven straight victories and becoming the fastest college lacrosse program to reach a top ten ranking in the process.
Tuesday’s 18-6 thrashing of Colgate confirmed the Gator’s new No. 10 ranking was well deserved.
The ghosts from last year’s overtime loss to the Raiders were promptly exorcised in the second half when Florida scored four straight goals and didn’t stop there. Sophomore midfielder Brittany Dashiell says last year’s loss was definitely a motivating factor for the team.
“Yeah well last year we lost to them in overtime so we wanted revenge badly,” Dashiell said. “This year we wanted to make sure we put them away and beat them by a bunch of goals, as many as we could.”
While the offense was impressive scoring 18 goals, the defense was also stifling, particularly in the first half when Florida’s offense was struggling to find its rhythm. Florida Sophomore attacker Janine Hillier explained that the team relies on everyone making plays and setting each other up.
“Our mindset is just playing as a team and it’s a team effort day in and day out at practice,” said Hillier. “We’re just bringing it out onto the field and it’s just a great feeling starting when Mikey (Meagher) makes a great save the ball moves fastest up field from the defense right up to the midfield and the attack finishes so it is a team effort.”
The Gators now face a great challenge with an excellent Syracuse team led by coach Gary Gait coming to Gainesville on Saturday at 1p.m.
The No. 11-ranked Orange (2-3) currently have a losing record, but they have had to endure a tough schedule this season. All of their losses have come to top-ten teams, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Virginia and the defending national champions, No. 1 Maryland.
Syracuse’s win over Towson on Tuesday gave the program its 155th all-time victory. The Orange currently rank fifth all time in Division 1 winning percentage. Saturday’s contest will be the school’s first matchup with Florida.
The Gators will have their work cut out for them defending Syracuse’s talented freshmen duo of Katie Webster and Alyssa Murray. The two players combined for eight points in their last game.
Coach Amanda O’Leary understands exactly what the Gators are up for on Saturday.
“Yeah, I mean Syracuse is fantastic, they had some tough losses to really great teams early on but they’re certainly coming into their own and their just a fantastic team, very well coached, very disciplined,” said O’Leary. “It’s gonna be a fun game out there on Saturday.”
The Gators play at Donald R. Dizney Stadium at Hull Road and Natural Area Drive.
Gator Country reporter Daniel Jennings can be reached at Daniel@gatorcountry.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/DJenningsGC