Florida secures win at High Point

Senior attack Caroline Chesterman (South Nyack, N.Y.) and sophomore midfielder Shannon Gilroy (Northport, N.Y.) each scored three goals apiece helping No. 3 Florida Lacrosse to a 13-7 win over High Point on Sunday. The Gators improve to 3-0 for the first time in program history, marking the best start since the inaugural 2010 season. In 2010, UF went 2-0 before losing to North Carolina in the third game of the season.

The Gators (3-0) held a narrow 6-3 lead at halftime but seven goals in the second half made the difference, as the Panthers (1-1) couldn’t overcome the onslaught of goals in the final period. Overall, the Gators took 32 shots on the afternoon and recorded 16 draw controls, 25 ground balls and nine saves.

“There were a lot of bright spots to the day, we saw a lot of players get in there and play very, very well and play very hard,” Head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “There are definitely some things we need to work on, but overall to come into a tough environment I thought we did a very, very good job.”

High Point scored first in the contest, less than two minute into the game, off a goal by attacker Kendyl Gardner. The Gators followed up with back-to-back goals from senior attack Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) and Gilroy to give Florida a 2-1 lead. Chesterman added her first goal of the season to make it 3-1. The Panthers kept the Gators close in the first half as they cut the lead to 3-2 off a Grace Gaeng goal with 17:45 to play.

Cullen and senior midfielder Brittany Dashiell (Bel Air, Md.) chipped in back-to-back goals to put the Orange and Blue up 5-2 followed by a High Point goal from Alec Perry sophomore midfielder Nicole Graziano (Mendham, N.J.) found the back of the net for the first time this season off a free position shot with 5:32 to play before the break.

O’Leary said at the half she encouraged her team to focus on the game plan set by assistant coach Erica LaGrow and the Gators came out ready in the second half, responding with seven consecutive goals in the final period.

“I think Erica put together a great game plan and I thought we were straying away from that in the first half. In the second half, we started to see where the openings were, taking advantage of it and putting the ball in the back of the net when we needed to,” O’Leary said.

The Gators came out firing, scoring their seven goals of the second half in succession after a High Point took the first goal of the half. Chesterman and Gilroy found the goal unassisted to start things off while senior attack Ashley Bruns (Ellicot City, Md.) found Chesterman open for her third goal of the game. Bruns followed up with a goal of her own at the 20:53 mark while Gilroy and Graziano found the back of the net for the first time this season. Freshman midfielder Sam Darcangelo (Freeland, Md.) scored her first goal to wrap up the Gators scoring on the afternoon with 8;38 to play.

Many newcomers saw action in the game including freshman goalie Mary Sean Wilcox (Lutherville, Md.). Wilcox spent the final 7:56 of the game in the goal and recorded four saves and allowed three goals.

“I thought Mary Sean did a really good job coming in for Mikey (Meagher) and saw some shots and really made some huge saves,” O’Leary said.

Bruns and Dashiell led the Gators with four ground balls each on the afternoon while Gilroy picked up seven draw controls, as part of UF’s dominance on draw controls in the game. In the second half, the Orange and Blue recorded five straight draw control to start the half while beating out the Panthers 16-6 in the contest. Dashiell also led the Gators with two assists while sophomore midfielder Nora Barry (Marcellus, N.Y.), senior attack Gabi Wiegand (Bay Shore, N.Y.) and Bruns all chipped in one each.

“We got three straight wins against three great opponents in UNC, Jacksonville and High Point and we did it in some weather conditions today that weren’t ideal but we have persevered and stuck with the game plan,” O’Leary said “But we are certainly ready to be back home and play in front of our home crowd for the next three games in five days.”

The Gators are back in action on Wednesday for their home opener that opens a three-game homestand as they host No 18/19 Stony Brook with a 3:30 p.m. opening draw at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Courtesy of UF Communications