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Thursday, February 02, 2023

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Times New Roman;">On

Saturday, No. 11 Syracuse constantly shadowed No. 10 Florida’s top

scoring threat, chasing Kitty Cullen all over the field.

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But as the Orange (2-4) soon found out, there’s more than one piece

to UF’s offense.

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Behind a career-high six goals by sophomore Ashley Bruns, the

Gators (8-1) scored their second win of the season over a top 15

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opponent, beating Syracuse 16-11 at Donald Dizney Stadium.

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“You can’t ask for anything more from Ashley,” UF coach Amanda

O’Leary said. “She was dominant on the offensive and also on the

ride as well. Not really much more to say than she was the driving

force today.”

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Times New Roman;">In

the first half, Cullen was repeatedly face guarded by Orange

defenders, effectively taking her out of the game. No. 9 Georgetown

tried a similar tactic on March 9, but Cullen was still able to net

four goals. 

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Syracuse’s defense proved to be more successful with the strategy,

as Orange defender Becca Block held Cullen, the nation’s leading

scorer, without a shot attempt in the first 30 minutes.

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“It wasn’t a surprise; Kitty’s been playing very well this season

so I think we knew it was going to come,” Bruns said. “We’ve been

working on ways to get her open, setting picks and screens, and it

ended up working really well today.”

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With one option out of the Gators’ arsenal, the offense centered

around Bruns, who tied a school record with her six netters, and

fellow midfielder Brittany Dashiell. The pair stepped up to the

challenge and combined for five first half goals to give their team

a 6-5 halftime lead.

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Dashiell was coming off a five goal performance against Colgate on

March 15, and continued her recent scoring hot streak by putting in

three goals by game’s end. The sophomore was also critical in

helping Florida win the possession battle, taking all the team’s

face offs and finishng tied with a game-high four draw

controls.

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“If you possess the ball, the other team can’t score,” UF coach

Amanda O’Leary said. “So for us to get those 18 draws was critical,

because we needed possession of the ball. As you can see their

attackers are such threats. If you give them an inch, the ball’s

going in the back of the net unfortunately.”

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The Gators owned the four of the first five possessions of the

second half due to Dashiell’s work at the face offs, allowing the

offense to score three goals in two minutes.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Times New Roman;">As

the Orange’s defense scrambled to get set after Florida won each

control, the ball was finally worked into Cullen, who notched three

second half goals. 

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“All seven of our attackers can come in and score,” Dashiell said.

“I think taking out one player isn’t going to make that big of a

difference, so we just used her and used that face guard to our

advantage.”

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With Cullen just starting to get involved, Bruns continued her

strong play well into the second half. The midfielder had a hand in

three straight goals for the Gators, scoring two and dishing out an

assist on another.

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Bruns scored her last goal with 6:24 left, which extended the

Gators’ advantage to six and stymied a late rally by Syracuse. 

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