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Friday, April 12, 2024

It was clear from the opening draw that Florida would have to fight for any opportunity it would get and capitalize on the chances it had if it was going to beat Vanderbilt on Sunday.

However, the Gators couldn’t do that.

UF (9-6, 1-3 American Lacrosse Conference) fell 12-7 to the No. 8 Commodores (11-3, 4-0 ALC) behind a poor offensive effort and sub-par defense.

Attacker Ashley Bruns led UF with three scores, all of which came with less that 15 minutes left in the game, while Caroline Cochran, Caroline Chesterman, Colby Rhea and Brittany Dashiell each accounted for one of UF’s seven scores.

Midfielder Kitty Cullen had the team’s sole assist.

Offensively, the Gators played a close first half. They took six of the eight draws and had six more shots than the Commodores, but their failure to convert on those shots led to a low-scoring half. Florida had shots flying way wide, bouncing off the goal post, and others going straight to the goalkeeper’s net.

 “We had our opportunities, offensively,” UF coach Amanda O’Leary said. “We did not shoot well at all. Our offense really did a poor job of shooting.”

In the second half, UF looked to be picking up its scoring and even led 6-5 with 10:19 to go, but draw controls were the Gators’ eventual downfall.

UF won 12 of the 21 total draws but  allowed its opponent to capture four-consecutive draws after the 6:56 mark in the second half, with Vanderbilt already up 8-7. The Commodores converted on those chances to push the game out of the Gators’ reach.

“We needed to compete harder,” O’Leary said. “The draw is all about competing for the ball. It’s not necessarily anything technical, it’s just, who’s going to go harder after the ball, and they won it.”

On defense, the Gators contained their opponent in the first half but had no answer for Vanderbilt’s offense in the second half as it scored seven of the final eight goals. UF allowed Ally Carey and Carter Foote to rack up four goals each while Katherine Denkler added two scores and three assists on the day.

After the game, the Gators knew they had missed a good opportunity to take down a top-10 opponent and to get a second conference win. The disappointment was blatant.

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“We came out knowing that each player had to do (her) job,” Bruns said. “We knew the players that we had to shut down and what we had to do offensively to start getting the goals in.

“We were all hustling all over the field, and it is a real downer to not win, but we’re going to learn a lot from it, and next year, we’re going to come out stronger.”

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