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The UF lacrosse team heads for the locker room for the second of two weather delays during Sunday's NCAA Tournament game.

Monday May 12, 2014Just Another 8-Hour Day at the Lacrosse Stadium

The UF lacrosse team heads for the locker room for the second of two weather delays during Sunday's NCAA Tournament game.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida-Denver lacrosse game started Sunday just after 1 p.m.

It ended at 9:04.

No, it wasn’t a one-for-the-ages epic, but fourth-ranked UF’s 19-9 defeat of the Pioneers in second-round action of the NCAA Tournament wasn’t any routine outing, either.

“Not just another day at the office,” Gators coach Amanda O’Leary said.

Not at eight-plus hours, with more than half of it spent in the locker room waiting out weather delays.

But this surprising Florida team, now 18-2 and with a home date Saturday against league rival Northwestern (13-6) in the Elite Eight, is to be commended for the way it went about its business after being so rudely interrupted.

Twice, in fact.

The Gators had jumped to a 3-0 edge when action was halted just over five minutes into the game. To the clubhouse the teams went, with play resuming 52 minutes later. But not for long.

The game was halted again just over 16 minutes later with the Gators up 8-4.

Though the public address announcer kept predicting the game would restart in 30 minutes, thunderstorms in the area made any prediction a moving target. Eventually, officials settled on an 8 p.m. restart.

Ultimately, the second delay lasted 5 hours, 17 minutes.

That’s a long time to stew on the stakes that come with the NCAA Tournament. Some players, like junior scoring machine Shannon Gilroy, popped open her lap top and watched live streams of some other NCAA matches.

“We’re lax rats. We love to be here,” said Gilroy, whose three goals gave her 83 for the season and 103 points, more than double the next-best Gator. “Some people went home. Some went to hotels nearby to be with family, hang out, talk.”

That worked for a while. But six hours and nine minutes worth of rain delays calls for something else. 

Some serious silliness.

“Yeah, we had a dance party,” sophomore attack Darcy Messina said.

“And the two of us did a comedy routine,” added defender Angela Flister.

Messina is one of the team’s cut-ups and oftentimes shares that stage with Flister, her classmate. They claim to be the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of the squad, each with a knack for lightening the mood when the occasion calls for it.

Like Sunday.

“We’re a package deal,” Messina said. “We’re very in-your-face. If I have to dance on a couch to get things going, I’ll do it. Look at our Twitter accounts. We’re always keeping the team laughing.”

But don’t bother checking timelines for any video clips of Gators behind the scenes.

“What goes on in the locker room, stays in the locker room,” Flister said.

And that includes the banana custom, leftover from Halloween when a bunch of Gators dressed as fruit, that’s stuffed in Messina’s locker. That's a trump card that likely will be saved for another rainy day. Or the like.

Once the whistle was blown and the lacrosse sticks were swinging, the Gators quickly increased their four-goal lead to seven, then opened a 10-point margin to start the running clock with 12:57 remaining.

"When it was time to go outside, we switched out of our goof mood," Gilroy said.

So Messina didn’t need to go bananas Sunday, but nothing will be off the table when the team reconvenes next weekend at Dizney Stadium for yet another showdown with Northwestern; the third meeting between the two teams in 29 days, as it turns out.

The Gators defeated the Wildcats 13-12 at Evanston, Ill., on April 19 to win the American Lacrosse Conference’s regular-season title. UF got NU on its home field again just two weeks later, this time winning 9-8, in the championship game of the ALC Tournament.

Northwestern, which won eight straight NCAA titles from 2004-11, has never lost to the same team three times in a season. The Wildcats, though, are just 3-6 against the Gators since UF added women's lacrosse for the 2010 season.

Someone may need to put their banana game face on this one. Or maybe -- hopefully -- the weather will cooperate.

That would be O’Leary’s preference, though she sure appreciated how her team handled a very out-of-the-ordinary lacrosse day with everything on the line.

“It was a really long day, but this team has fighters,” she said. “They know how to prepare, know what is important and how to keep their mindset where it needs to be."


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