Florida lacrosse advances to Elite Eight

With cylinders firing on all ends, the No. 5 seed Florida lacrosse team used nine unanswered goals in the first half, sending them to a 16-5 win over Denver on Sunday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in the NCAA second round. The Gators (18-2) advance to the Elite 8 for the third-consecutive season and will face No. 4 seed Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y. next Saturday.

Three Gators scored multiple goals as senior attack Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) tied a season-high five goals as senior attack Ashley Bruns (Ellicott City, Md.) and sophomore midfielder Shannon Gilroy (Northport, N.Y.) each chipped in four goals as they improved to 4-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. With her five goals, Cullen becomes the first Gator to record 200 career goals.

Senior midfielder Brittany Dashiell (Bel Air, Md.) also etched her name into the record books with her three assist for the afternoon, becoming the third Gator in program history to record 200 career points. In addition to her four goals, Gilroy had a team-high seven draws as the Orange and Blue won draw controls 16-7.

UF’s offense fired off 34 shots in the contest and also won ground balls 23-14 with Bruns recording a team-high five in the game. In return, Florida’s defense, the second-best in the nation, allowed just 17 shots and got a solid performance from senior goalie Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) who recorded nine saves.

“Basically it was just a total team effort,” Head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “ Mikey came up really big in the goal cage and I thought Jamie (Reeg) and Emily (Dohony) did a great job on the two-man on the crease and Sam (Farrell) containing one of their most potent attackers.”

Florida took off from the opening draw as Cullen burned the defense to score 1:02 into the contest.  Gilroy followed up 22 seconds later after winning the draw and taking it all the way to the goal putting the Gators up 2-0.

A Bruns goal, on a dish from Dashiell, would make it 3-0 before Denver’s Annabelle Gilbride got the Pioneers on the board with 26:25 to play in the half. But it was all Florida from there, scoring nine unanswered goals to head into the break with a 12-1 lead.

Senior defender Sam Farrell (Millersville, Md.) picked up three ground balls, caused two turnovers and recorded a draw control as part of the Gators’ defense that allowed five goals or less for the seventh time this season. Florida also kept sophomore attacker Jill Remenapp, who leads the nation in assist and assist per game, and held her to just a goal and assist in the contest.  The Pioneers also scored all five goals from five different players while dishing out three assists.

“It was just a total team effort out there defensively. I thought that we communicated well and we slid well on the double team so I’m really pleased with our effort today,” O’Leary said.

UF end’s Denver’s best season in the program’s 13 year history. The Pioneers earned their first NCAA Tournament bid after winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season title and defeated Jacksonville in Friday’s first round game, 14-7.

“I think Florida was hands down the best team we have played all season,” Denver head coach Liza Kelly said. “Walking into a big stage against a good opponent, I wish it hadn’t taken 30 minutes to calm down.”

Denver found life in the second half, scoring the first two goals out of the break but Cullen retaliated with back-to-back goals as the Gators held a 10 goal lead for much of the second half. The two teams exchanged goals to close the half as Gilroy scored with 12:21 on the clock while freshman attack Devon Schneider (Lititz, Pa.) came off the bench to wrap up scoring with 4:10 left on the clock.

Courtesy of UF Communications