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Friday, March 31, 2023

After a quick start on Sunday, Penn State got physical.

The Gators made them pay for doing so.

No. 4 Florida (12-2, 2-0 American Lacrosse Conference) scored a season-high five man-up goals in a 20-11 win against No. 10 Penn State (8-3, 1-1 ALC).

“[Sunday] was just a great day to show that we can stay with all the teams that are physical,” junior attacker Ashley Bruns said.

With the Nittany Lions leading 3-1 more than six minutes into the game, junior midfielder Brittany Dashiell cut the Gators’ deficit to one when she was knocked to the ground while putting a shot past PSU’s Dana Cahill, the 2011 ALC Goalkeeper of the Year. No foul was called on the play, but less than two minutes later Dashiell was fouled high by midfielder Lizzy Carney as she was taking the ball through the arc, the first of Penn State’s six yellow cards on the day.

Dashiell flipped the ensuing free-position shot to junior attacker Caroline Chesterman on the left side of the crease, and she put it past Cahill to tie the game.

The Nittany Lions did not lead the rest of the way.

Coach Amanda O’Leary said she was pleased with her team for taking advantage of its man-up opportunities to get back in the game.

“They showed a lot of maturity [Sunday] in the ability to come back from that,” O’Leary said.

In the next six minutes, the Gators scored three more goals in man-up situations. Freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy scored the third of those goals on a free-position shot to make it 6-3, the first of her game-high five goals. Gilroy was then fouled less than two minutes later when taking the ball to the goal, and she put another free-position shot past Cahill.

“I was confident in myself,” Gilroy said. “Knew that I was going to get it in the back of the net.”

The six yellow cards were a game-high for a UF opponent this season. The fifth was called on attacker Elaine Welch with 5:31 remaining in the first half. Only North Carolina and Syracuse have received four or more yellow cards in one game against UF this season. The Tar Heels did not receive their fourth yellow card until seven minutes into the second half, while the Orange’s fourth came in overtime.

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Gilroy, who also finished with a game-high seven draw controls, was relentless in attacking the net despite the aggressive Penn State defense. She scored on another free-position shot in the second half after getting fouled inside the arc.

“She’s got a nose for the goal,” O’Leary said.

With the win, O’Leary became the 12th Division I coach to reach 200 career victories. But, following the game, she downplayed the significance of her achievement and gave credit to her assistant coaches and her players for the offense’s success.

“(Assistant coaches Erica LaGrow and Caitlyn McFadden) do a great job with our offense and creating opportunities for our attackers to score in those man-up situations,” O’Leary said. “Ultimately, the onus is on the players to go out there and score and they did.”

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