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Saturday, January 28, 2023

A day after cracking the top 10 for the first time in team history, the No. 10 Gators played like they deserved it with an 18-6 win over visiting Colgate.

Florida (7-1) used the hot stick of Brittany Dashiell to come alive following a stagnant opening 10 minutes Tuesday. After falling behind the Raiders 1-0, Dashiell scored three of the Gators’ first six goals and also contributed a first-half assist. 

“This was probably one of Brittany’s best games she’s ever played as a Florida Gator,” coach Amanda O’Leary said.

Dashiell was complemented by fellow midfielder Janine Hillier, who dominated in open space, weaving through traffic and past Colgate (3-4) defenders.

“Toward the second half of the game, they started pressuring us more,” Dashiell said. “We just moved the ball quickly so they would be running more and we could tire them out and then drive to goal.”

The Gators extended their four-goal halftime lead with a 10-1 run to start the second period, culminating with Dashiell’s career-high fifth goal while Hillier chipped in three of her own.

O’Leary said her midfielders were effective against the Raiders because they were quicker and able to get in one-one-one situations.

“It helps to have a team with a little bit of speed,” O’Leary said. “You have Haydon [Judge] who can run, and Jamie [Reeg] who has a great stick and Janine just has the combination of both.”

After working hard to get the ball up the field in transition, Hillier was relieved to see Florida’s attackers, Kitty Cullen and Ashley Bruns, finish what she and the midfielders started. Cullen and Bruns combined for seven goals on thirteen shots, allowing those who started the break to rest after sprinting 40-plus yards.

“Brittany and Janine are our middies, they run up and down the field the whole game, playing offense and defense,” O’Leary said. “They are just the big-time glue players for us, holding us together.”

With six minutes left, the Gators were able to clear the bench for the second straight game, something O’Leary and Hillier were pleased to see before Florida plays No. 11 Syracuse and then starts conference games a week later.

“We’re just moving forward and taking it day by day, but we wouldn’t be as far as we are right now without those practice players who just go hard at practice, so everyone’s accountable,” Hillier said.

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