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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Gators came out flat Saturday against their first ranked opponent since the season opener.

While much of the game was evenly played, Syracuse set the tone early, outscoring Florida 4-0 in the first 13 minutes of action.

“You have to come out with a fire, and we didn’t,” coach Amanda O’Leary said.

The No. 4 Gators (4-2) overcame deficits in both halves and the first overtime before falling to the No. 9 Orange (2-2), 12-11 in double overtime. UF lost when it gave up a goal 55 seconds into the sudden-death, second overtime period Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Florida struggled to create good scoring chance early, forcing quick shots in possessions and turning the ball over three times in the game’s first eight minutes.

“We didn’t play Florida lacrosse in the first half,” junior attacker Kitty Cullen said. “So that put in a bit of a lull and had us climbing out of a hole the rest of the game.”

UF finally got on the scoreboard at the 12:48 mark in the first half when Cullen passed the ball from the right side of the arc to freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy, who put a bouncing shot past Orange goalkeeper Alyssa Costantino. It was the longest scoring drought for the Gators’ to start a game since 2010 against Northwestern.

After falling behind 4-0, the Gators outshot the Orange the rest of the way, 34-19, and O’Leary said they did not capitalize on numerous opportunities.

“They’ve go to do it,” O’Leary said. “They’ve got to take the onus and put the ball in the back of the net.”

With Florida down 10-7 with 2:43 remaining in the game, Nora Barry scored on a free-position shot. Junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell controlled the ensuing draw and got it to junior attacker Ashley Bruns, who pulled the Gators within one when she wrapped around the left post and put it past Costantino.

Then, Cullen scored her first goal of the game to tie it with 52 seconds left when Dashiell forced a turnover. Dashiell passed it to Cullen who beat Costantino from outside the right side of the arc.

Dashiell said the 3-0 run to end regulation displayed the kind of urgency the Gators should have played with from the start.

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“We weren’t playing as a whole, but as soon as we regrouped and started playing our game that was when we came back,” Dashiell said.

The Orange scored a man-down goal with 48 seconds remaining in the first half of overtime. Then, Dashiell was fouled inside the arc with 1:33 remaining in overtime and put a free-position shot in the top right corner of the net.

Syracuse’s Bridget Daley controlled the draw to begin the sudden death overtime that followed. Fifty five seconds later, Orange midfielder Katie Webster put a shot past Meagher from outside the arc to end the game.

There was a delay prior to overtime as referee John Singleton had to leave the game and was taken to Shands because he was having trouble breathing.

Peter Hyde, the chair of U.S. Lacrosse Super Region II, was in attendance at the game evaluating the officials, and took Singleton’s place.

While O’Leary was visibly upset on the sidelines with some of the calls, she refused to blame the officiating for the final result.

“You have to put the officials out of your head,” O’Leary said. “No excuses. We all need to take responsibility for this loss.”

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