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Saturday March 3, 2012Gators Drop Heart-Breaking Double Overtime Thriller to No. 9 Syracuse

Gainesville, Fla.

The University of Florida lacrosse team put together a tremendous comeback in the final three minutes of regulation, but No. 9 Syracuse had the final say, as the Orange defeated the Gators, 12-11, in double overtime. The win lifts the Orange to 2-2, while the Gators fall to 4-2.

“It was a tough game,” said Head Coach Amanda O’Leary. “We got ourselves in a hole early and I don’t think we came out and competed. Against a team like this, or against any team, you have to come out with a fire and we didn’t.

Brittany Dashiell (Bel Air, Md.) led the Gators with three goals, an assist, six draw controls and a team-season-high five ground balls. Nora Barry (Marcellus, N.Y.) and Gabi Wiegand (Bay Shore, N.Y.) both had a pair of goals, and Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) and Ashley Bruns (Ellicott City, Md.) each put up a goal and an assist. Freshmen Nicole Graziano (Mendham, N.J.) and Shannon Gilroy (Huntington, N.Y.) had the remaining two goals, and Caroline Chesterman (South Nyack, N.Y.) added an assist.

On the defensive end, Jamie Reeg (Atlantis, Fla.) forced a career-high-tying three turnovers and Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) made 10 saves in the complete game, playing a career-high 66:55 in the cage.

Sarah Holden led the offense for the Orange, scoring three goals, and Katie Webster and Devon Collins each notched two. Michelle Tumolo added a goal and two of Syracuse’s three assists. Alyssa Costantino held down the back line for the Orange, stopping 13 shots in her first complete game of the season.

The Gators outdid the Orange in just about every statistical category, including outshooting them, 39-26. However, UF had just two more shots on goal than Syracuse, narrowly leading 24-22. Additionally, the Orange turned the ball over 20 times, while Florida lost possession on just nine occurrences.  

“I think what we need to learn from it is the fact that, one – you have to go hard from the beginning, and two – you have to take care of the ball,” said O’Leary. “We had 39 opportunities to score the ball today.  You look at that, generating 39 shots, that’s a great offensive game plan.  We created opportunities for them to score but they have to do it; they have to put the ball in the back of the net. 

“Give their goalie credit, I thought she played a super game and made some great saves. But 39 opportunities, that was wasted.  If you look at all of the rest of the stats, we dominated those stats. I think it was just a tough game.”

Michelle Tumolo got the scoring started just over a minute into the game, shoveling in a low shot from close in on the right at 28:35. Tumolo’s goal marked the first of four straight for ‘Cuse, and the Orange soon owned a 4-0 lead.

The Gators were far from throwing in the towel, and at 12:48, Kitty Cullen drove the ball into the 12-meter fan and sent a crossing pass to Shannon Gilroy at the top of the arc, who fought off a double-team defense to put the ball in the back of the net. Five minutes later, Chesterman connected with Dashiell from behind the net, who sent a one-timer past Costantino to cut the Orange lead in half, down 4-2.

“I think in the first 15 or 20 minutes we weren’t ready,” Dashiell said. “Our heads just weren’t in the game, and after that we brought it together, regrouped, and started playing as a team again as we know how to play.”

Sarah Holden got one back for Syracuse, but Dashiell found the back of the net again at 4:21, juking an Orange defender and netting an open shot at 4:21. Gabi Wiegand chipped away further at the Orange advantage, scoring an unassisted goal with 45 seconds to go in the half and bringing the Gators within one, 5-4.

However, Devon Collins pulled out a sixth goal just 32 seconds later, to give Syracuse a 6-4 lead heading into the break.

Kirkland Locey won the opening draw of the second half, and soon Katie Webster scored her first goal of the afternoon, pushing Syracuse ahead, 7-4.

A yellow card to Bridget Daley at 26:51 gave the Gators a man-up opportunity and before the end of the advantage, Ashley Bruns capitalized on a ‘Cuse turnover, feeding Gabi Wiegand from behind the goal cage for the Gators’ fifth score.

After close to seven minutes with no scoring, the Gators found themselves on another man-up opportunity. Brittany Dashiell drove the ball in to the top of the 12-meter fan and sent a crossing pass to Nicole Graziano on the left of the goal, who brought the Gators back within one, 7-6.

The Orange’s fouls continued to hurt them, as at 13:20, Nora Barry recorded a free-position goal, completing the comeback and tying the score at seven.

The score remained tied for close to five minutes, until Syracuse went on a three-goal tear over less than two minutes and soon led, 10-7.

Time was running out for the Gators, but ‘it ain’t over til it’s over.’ Nora Barry recorded a second free-position goal at 2:43 to restore Florida’s momentum. Dashiell then won the next draw and drove the ball into Syracuse’s zone. She got the ball to Ashley Bruns, who ran around the back of the goal and sent a wraparound shot into the far corner of the goal just 29 seconds later to pull back within one.

The clock continued to tick, but with 53 seconds to go in regulation, Kitty Cullen drove the ball down from the midfield and ripped a bullet through triple-team defense to tie the score at 10 and the send the game into overtime.

Sixteen seconds into the extra period, Natalie Glanell was sent to the penalty area with the Orange’s fourth yellow card of the afternoon. However, the Gators were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, and with 48 seconds to go in the first half of overtime, Sarah Holden scored a man-down goal to put Syracuse ahead, 11-10.

Though they did not score on the man-up opportunity, the Gators soon capitalized on another Syracuse error, as Dashiell laced in a free-position goal at 1:33 to tie the score at 11 and send the game into a sudden death double-overtime period.

‘Cuse’s Bridget Daley won the opening draw in double overtime, and 55 seconds later, sophomore Katie Webster put the game away, scoring the game-winner for the Orange two hours and 35 minutes after the opening whistle.

“They didn’t quit,” O’Leary remarked. “If there is a positive to come out, it would be that they didn’t quit.  They got down and clawed their way back.  I just hoped that we would have the heart to pull out the win after working so hard to get the tying goal, that we would have had enough in us to score the game winner.”

The Gators look to shake off today’s loss with a trip to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as they take on 2011 BIG EAST regular-season champion Georgetown. Opening draw is set for 2 p.m.

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