Disappointing Ending to Remarkable Season

When Florida decided to launch a lacrosse program five years ago, Gator athletic director Jeremy Foley could not have envisioned this much success this soon. Despite a 13-9 loss to Duke on Saturday Florida has a tremendous amount to be proud off after just two competitive seasons.

Coach Amanda O'Leary came to the Gators from Yale and immediately began winning over people in Gainesville and student-athletes in lacrosse hot-beds like Maryland and New York. O'Leary and her staff recruited a sensational class for year one and guided that freshmen dominated team to a 10-8 record. The season was highlighted by wins over No. 17 New Hampshire (15-3), No. 14 Penn State (13-11) and No. 20 Johns Hopkins (14-3). To post three wins over ranked opponents showed Florida was on its way.

This year had to exceed all expectations, even the most ambitious ones that O'Leary and her players may have had. The Gators won the American Lacrosse Conference regular season championship with a perfect 5-0 record. That's just one year after losing 4-of-5 league games. Florida advanced to the championship game of the ALC Tournament losing by a single goal to Northwestern.

The Gators entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed and the quarterfinal game with Duke (No. 5) was just about what was to be expected. Florida was tight early on, went on a run to take the lead and had a slight 9-8 advantage into the final minutes before Duke's experience (nine seniors) helped the Blue Devils make the key plays and score the final five goals of the contest.

Florida finishes the season with a 16-4 and outscored its opponents by 90 goals on the year. The Gators squad was dominated by sophomores and the future looks extremely bright. Let's take a look.


In two years, Florida's Kitty Cullen (108) and Ashley Bruns (94) have established themselves as two of the top goal scorers in the country. That high scoring tandem is supported by Caroline Chesterman (64) and Brittany Dashiell (63) who have scored 25-plus goals in each season. Add in Janine Hillier who emerged this season with 34 goals and you have plenty of offense. The Gators have work to do on the defensive end, but do boast All-ALC first team selection Sam Farrell. All-ALC second team pick Mikey Meagher has developed into a strong goalie.

The Gators would likely be a better team next year just through individual development, physical growth and mental maturity. But Florida will also add seven newcomers that comprise the top ranked recruiting class in the nation. It's the second time in three years the Gators' signees have been ranked the best in the country.

Headlining the class is perhaps the top prospect in the country in Shannon Gilroy. Gilroy and fellow Gator signee Sally Jentis are both on the U-19 National Training Team. Gilroy, Jentis and Nora Barry give the Gators three of the top 20 recruits in the nation and assure that the 2012 team and others into the future will be competing at the highest level.

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