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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Florida finally got the monkey off its back Saturday.

After two unsuccessful chances to win a conference game, UF took down No. 14 Penn State 13-11 in Gainesville.

Freshman attacker Ashley Bruns led the team with four scores and two assists, while attacker Janine Hillier added two goals. Midfielders Caroline Chesterman and Brittany Dashiell each accounted for two scores.

The Gators’ (8-4, 1-2 American Lacrosse Conference) defense made the difference, shutting down the Nittany Lions’ top scorer, Molly Fernandez, and containing their other threats.

Florida used defender Haydon Judge to frustrate Fernandez, and she managed to limit Fernandez’s stat line to just one yellow card. UF held PSU (6-4, 0-2 ALC) to one of six free-position shot conversions and zero shot attempts in the first 13 minutes of the game.

Coach Amanda O’Leary said she put Judge on Fernandez because of her tenacity, quick feet and speed

“Haydon did a really good job on her,” O’Leary said. “She took Molly out of her game a little bit, but it’s a total team effort out there, and you can’t focus on one player, but we did a super job on her.”

UF got off to a quick 4-0 start, clogging the 12-meter arc whenever the Nittany Lions drove toward the goal, but at the half, the teams were tied at six. The game came down to the final 30 minutes when the Gators’ aggressive play helped them hold on despite being matched in shots (13), ground balls (five) and draws (six) in the second half.

“The defense stepped up and gave me the chance to make the angle saves that I needed,” said goalkeeper Cara Canington, who recorded eight saves. “With this team, we didn’t want to put them on the eight-meter (arc), but if we had to, it was good that they were putting them on the side and giving me the angle to make the save a little easier.”

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