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Saturday May 7, 2011Gators Fall to Wildcats in ALC Tournament Championship, 10-9

Nashville, Tenn.

The No. 4 Florida lacrosse team fell to No. 3 Northwestern in the ALC Tournament final, 10-9, on Saturday afternoon at VU Lacrosse Complex. With the win, second-seeded Northwestern continues to be the only champion in the history of the tournament. First-seeded Florida reached their first-ever ALC Tournament final in only their second year of existence.

The Gators were led by sophomore attacker Caroline Chesterman (South Nyack, N.Y.) with three goals on the afternoon. Sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns (Ellicott City, Md.) and sophomore midfielder Brittany Dashiell (Bel Air, Md.) had two apiece, while sophomore midfielder Janine Hillier (Farmingdale, N.Y.) and sophomore defender Jamie Reeg (Atlantis, Fla.) each added a goal. Tewaaraton nominee Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) contributed an assist. Bruns had four ground balls and three caused turnovers. Sophomore goalkeeper Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) had four saves and three ground balls and sophomore defender Kayla Stolins (Glen Arm, Md.) led the Gator defense with three ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Florida had as much as a three-goal lead at 8-5 but Northwestern came storming back, going on a 5-0 run to take a 10-8 lead with 2:22 remaining. Bruns scored after causing a turnover from Rookie of the Year Alyssa Leonard but it wasn’t enough, as the Gators gave up a crucial possession with just 1:15 remaining in the game.

The Orange and Blue opened the game off a goal by Chesterman from Cullen, ending a 4:30 scoring drought by both teams. Dashiell found the back of the net a little over two minutes later, giving the Gators a 2-0 lead. Northwestern’s Amanda Macaluso scored at 20:20, ending nearly 10 scoreless minutes for the Wildcats. ALC Tournament MVP Shannon Smith scored unassisted a little over a minute later to tie the game at 2 apiece.

Hillier scored a minute later to give the Gators a slight edge before the Wildcats’ Jessica Russo split the Gator defense after a feed from Smith. Bruns and Dashiell scored back-to-back Gator goals to put Florida up by two at 5-3 with less than five minutes to play in the half. Northwestern’s Erin Fitzgerald scored from Smith to finish the scoring for the half and send the teams into intermission at 5-4.

Smith continued her offensive tear, scoring an unassisted goal 5:20 into the second half to knot the score at 5-5. The Gators then went on a streak of their own, scoring three straight goals to take their largest lead of the game at 8-5. Reeg broke away from her defender to score her third goal of the season. Chesterman then scored back-to-back goals, both while being heavily defended within the eight-meter. The first was a spinning shot over the shoulder of her defenders. The second was deflected from a Northwestern stick and floated in past Wildcats goalkeeper Brianne LoManto.

Northwestern answered with their final scoring drive, going on a 5-0 run to put them ahead 10-8 with 2:22 remaining. Bruns was able to score on a breakaway after causing a Leonard turnover and pull within one. The teams were fighting for the final possession but as Dohony won the final draw control and Florida called a timeout, the officials found Cullen to have an illegal stick and Northwestern was given possession. Bruns caused a final turnover in the closing seconds but Northwestern’s fifth tournament title bid was complete, defeated the Gators, 10-9.

Florida won the ground ball battle, 16-10, but Northwestern continued their dominance in the center, winning 13 draw controls to Florida’s eight. The Gators had three free position opportunities but were never able to capitalize on any of them. The Orange and Blue outshot the Wildcats, 25-22.

Gator sophomores Emily Dohony (Parkton, Md.), Sam Farrell (Millersville, Md.) and Hillier were named to the 2011 ALC All-Tournament Team.

The Gators now await their fate in the NCAA Tournament. The official NCAA Selection Show is at 7:30p.m. and is streaming live on NCAA.com.  

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