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Saturday, February 24, 2024
<p>Kitty Cullen (4) drives toward the goal against Dartmouth on March 20. Cullen and Emily Dohony have both suffered head injuries this season but said they do not want helmets to be required.</p>

Kitty Cullen (4) drives toward the goal against Dartmouth on March 20. Cullen and Emily Dohony have both suffered head injuries this season but said they do not want helmets to be required.

Emily Dohony and Kitty Cullen have good reason to be scared.

But they aren’t.

Both players have suffered head injuries in the past three weeks, but neither has reservations about being back on the field without taking additional safety measures.

Cullen, a junior attacker, sustained a concussion in the Gators’ 10-8 win at Ohio State on March 24. She hit the ground in the first half and was struck from behind in the head or neck area in the second half, but the team could not determine which play caused the concussion. She returned to the lineup against Johns Hopkins on Saturday after missing two games. 

Cullen said additional action does not need to be taken to improve safety because doing so could make women’s lacrosse as physical as men’s lacrosse.

“I think it’s a pretty safe game,” Cullen said. “It always could be safer if we wore helmets, but then people might get more aggressive.”

Dohony, a junior defender, had to leave Saturday’s game against Johns Hopkins after she was hit by an attackers’ stick, opening up a cut on her forehead that bled profusely.

Women’s lacrosse players currently have the option to wear a soft rugby-style helmet, but no Gator has opted for the extra protection.

Both Dohony and Cullen cited comfort, and Cullen also said she thinks it could restrict her peripheral vision.

Cullen became the second Gator to suffer a concussion in as many seasons, as junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell lost consciousness after falling chin-first onto the artificial turf at Penn State’s Bigler Field in 2011.

Junior defender Sam Farrell was also held out of Florida’s game against Detroit University earlier this season for precautionary reasons after being hit by a ball on the top of her head in warm-ups.

Despite the pattern of head injuries to her players, coach Amanda O’Leary is also content with the safety measures in women’s lacrosse such as the new rule implemented prior to the season that puts a team down a man for two minutes for receiving a yellow card.

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“The repercussions of yellow cards are so significant, playing a man down, that I think it has helped control a lot of the excess fouling,” O’Leary said. “You can’t really prevent every injury from happening.”

She has no plans to require her team to wear helmets, but the athletic department would cover the cost if those plans change.

“We tell our players that whatever protective gear that is allowed within the rules we will provide for them,” O’Leary said. “The rules of the game are meant to keep our game safe and overall I think our game is very safe … I don’t feel like I would need to step in and require our team to wear helmets.”

Dohony said she thought the play was incidental, and said it’s not something she’s worried will happen again.

“I feel safe,” Dohony said.

“I’ve been playing for over 10 years and nothing has happened yet. So I’m just lucky this is the first time, and I’m ready to play again.”

Kitty Cullen (4) drives toward the goal against Dartmouth on March 20. Cullen and Emily Dohony have both suffered head injuries this season but said they do not want helmets to be required.

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