After defeating the first six ranked opponents it faced, the No. 2 Florida lacrosse team was suffocated by top-ranked Maryland 14-4 in front of a home crowd of 1,015, the ninth-largest showing in Donald R. Dizney Stadium’s history.
UF (9-1) ended the first half down just 4-2 and was able to pull within one to start to second half thanks to a goal from redshirt senior midfielder Nicole Graziano, but then the Terps pulled ahead for good.
They out-hustled us,” UF coach Amanda O’Leary said. “... For the most part, they dominated the ground balls, they dominated the draws, and, as I said, if you don't have possession against a team like this, you're in trouble.”
Maryland (6-0) scored on a free position shot from Megan Whittle, putting the Terrapins up 5-3 and starting an eventual 8-0 scoring run that spanned 16 minutes.
Freshman midfielder Sydney Pirreca scored with 8:50 left in the game to bring the score to 12-4, but the damage had already been done. The Terps went on to score two more goals to turn on a running clock for the last three minutes of the game.
In UF’s two previous games, second-half defensive adjustments have been key to pulling ahead in the match’s final 30 minutes — the Gators allowed just two combined goals in the second halves against Boston College and Towson.
But against Maryland, Florida was outscored 10-2 in the second half.
“We just didn't play our game the second half,” Graziano said. “We were too focused on ourselves on defense and not about playing as a team.”
O’Leary gave the Terps credit where it was due — Maryland had more draw controls and ground balls than the Gators after halftime.
Draw controls were said to be a key factor coming into this game, but the Terps were all over the circle, winning possession on 15 out of the 20 draws. Maryland’s Taylor Cummings’ six draw controls were more than the entire UF squad had all day.
The second-half struggles also allowed frustration to kick in — after committing nine fouls in the first half, UF was hit with 19 fouls in the final 30 minutes.
“A lot of people were frustrated not just with how the game was going, but in themselves too,” said freshman midfielder Lindsey Ronbeck, who scored the Gators’ first two goals of the match.
“That’s definitely not how we play.”
A game like this was needed to bring a Gators team that had dominated coming into Saturday back down to earth.
“We need to grow and become more confident and step on the field with a little bit more sense of security and we need to do a better job of just executing the basics,” O’Leary said.
“So, lots of things to work on.”