Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Gators know they won't catch the American Lacrosse Conference off-guard again.

In 2011, Florida became the fastest program to ever reach a ranking as high as No. 2, as it finished the regular season with a 14-2 record while going 5-0 in the ALC. During their 2010 inaugural season, the Gators won only one conference game in the regular season.

“Last year, we did sneak up on a lot of teams,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “I don’t think we are sneaking up on anybody this year, simply because they’ve had two years to watch us and a lot of opportunities to be able to evaluate our players because we haven’t really lost anyone.”

With No. 10 Penn State (8-2, 1-0 ALC) coming to Gainesville on Sunday to take on No. 4 Florida (11-2, 1-0), the Gators will look to several of their newcomers to give the Nittany Lions an unfamiliar and more dangerous look.

Freshmen midfielders Nora Barry, Shannon Gilroy and Nicole Graziano have all scored at least 20 points, and the team’s leading scorer is junior transfer attacker Gabi Wiegand.

O’Leary said that freshmen do not often have the complete skill set that her first-year players possess, and it has allowed them to make an early impact.

“That whole set of freshmen are really multi-dimensional,” O’Leary said. “They can drive. They can feed. They can drive and feed at the same time.”

Opposing teams have tried to defend the Gators numerous times this season with double teams and the backer zone, which leaves one attacker open.

Teams that have played this way have used the strategies to try and shut down the Gators who had success last year such as junior attackers Kitty Cullen and Ashley Bruns.

Thus, much of the Gators’ success has been and will be predicated on the players that receive this extra attention being able to get the ball to the other midfielders and attackers, who in turn must capitalize on their open opportunities.

Wiegand said other teams are going to be surprised with the Gators’ added depth and how each player is capable of making them pay for leaving her open.

“Other teams would definitely put their best defenders on people like Kitty and Ashley,” Wiegand said. “What’s good about that is that everyone is a threat. It doesn’t matter who has the ball in their stick because we have confidence in one another.”

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

With Cullen’s availability for the Penn State game still in question due to a concussion suffered in the Gators’ 10-8 at Ohio State on Saturday, the play of the newcomers will be vital to the attack.

O’Leary said it is difficult for other teams to scout the freshmen because they have not developed any tendencies yet, and that will play to Florida’s advantage.

“Teams aren’t going to know what they are going to do,” O'Leary said.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.