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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Gators led big early on Saturday

And they made sure the opposition never had the ball long enough to make it a close game.

No. 4 Florida (8-2) dominated possession and kept a relentless attack throughout in a 21-8 win at William and Mary (2-6).

“I think it was critical we possessed the ball in the beginning and we did a nice job of coming up with possessions,” coach Amanda O’Leary said.

The Gators led the Tribe in draw controls, 19-12 with freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy controlling a game-high seven draws and junior defender Kayla Stolins had five.

“Shannon Gilroy has been doing an incredible job on the draw,” junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell said. “Kayla is great on the job and getting ground balls.”

The dominance on the draw gave the UF attack the opportunity to score early and often, as the Gators scored five times in the first 5:04 of the game with four of the goals coming on possessions that ensued following a Gilroy or Stolins draw control.

At the 18:49 mark of the first half, Florida led 8-2 after junior attacker Kitty Cullen scored the first of six consecutive UF goals. Cullen, who finished the game with four goals and two assists, had the first three goals of the run.

“She set herself up in a perfect position where she could take advantage of her speed and dodge and be able to finish,” O’Leary said of Cullen.

William and Mary sophomore attacker Taelor Salmon scored twice to end the half, but the momentum did not last for long as Florida scored seven unanswered goals to begin the second half.

Junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell scored the last two of her five goals during the 7-0 run to tie her single-game career high. Both Dashiell and Cullen said they were able to find holes in the William and Mary defense as the Tribe defenders played a high-pressure style the majority of the game.

“We just took advantage of that and made sure we communicated and found the open girl,” Dashiell said of the high-pressure defense. “Or even just driving to goal quickly when we have opportunities.”

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The UF defense did its part as well. With 4:41 remaining, William and Mary only had nine shots to the Gators’ 33 before the Tribe scored four of the game’s last five goals.

“Our defenders just did awesome,” Cullen said. “They were able to cause a lot of turnovers and get the ball to the attack.”

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