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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Gators’ first-round game in the NCAA Tournament did not go as planned, but they achieved the desired result.

No. 1 seed Florida (18-2) is on its way to the NCAA Quarterfinals after defeating Albany (12-6) and extending its winning streak to 14 games with a 6-4 win on Saturday.

“They were scrappy,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Our defense did a great job of containing their attackers, but I also think Albany did a fantastic job of show-sliding, double teaming, collapsing into the middle and taking away some really critical opportunities that we are normally able to execute on.”  

The Great Danes proved to be a challenge as they held the Gators to a season-low 12 shots on goal — 18 fewer than their season average and three short of their goals per game average.

O’Leary said that not everything went as planned, but the team exhibited determination.

“I’m really proud of our kids as well,” O’Leary said. “I think they came out and they competed. I don’t think everything went as we had scripted, but still competed hard, played hard and came out with a win.”

The Gators gained a quick advantage with a 4-0 lead in the first half keeping the Great Danes at bay and holding a lead the entire game.

One player that stood out for Florida on Saturday was Shannon Gilroy. The freshman followed her performance against Northwestern with five draw controls and two goals, sporting another competitive outing in the midfield.

Gilroy said that winning draw controls are crucial and help motivate the team.

“It’s definitely a big confidence booster,” Gilroy said. “…we get the draw, we get to have the possession, we could have a chance to score and keep the ball out of the attackers on the other end of the field.”

The Gators are now preparing to host the Penn State Nittany Lions (12-6) at Donald R. Dizney Stadium this Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Florida will be looking to defeat the Nittany Lions for a chance at its first-ever Final Four appearance.

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