After a Stony Brook narrowed Florida’s lead to 12-8, coach Amanda O’Leary took a timeout with 19:37 left in the second half.
Watching the Seawolves trim a nine-goal deficit to four, O’Leary benched All-American senior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher for freshman Mary-Sean Wilcox.
Less than a minute after entering the game, Wilcox was tested. After Stony Brook’s Emily Mercier was left wide open in the middle of the field on a transition, Wilcox faced a one-on-one breakaway. Mercier shot less than 4 meters from the goal.
Wilcox made the save.
“It was really exciting to get out there,” Wilcox said. “Having that initial save pretty much turned the game around for everyone. Everyone started to really pick it up after that, started to check back into the game.”
Thanks to Wilcox, the No. 3 Gators (4-0) defeated the 19th-ranked Seawolves (1-1) 16-9 on Wednesday afternoon.
The second shot Wilcox faced came off the stick of Stony Brook’s Claire Petersen, whose 101 points in 2012 set a program record.
Blanketed by two defenders, Petersen forced her way to the 2-meter circle in front of the goal and fired.
Wilcox made the save.
“It was incredible for Mary-Sean to come in and do such a great job,” said Brittany Dashiell, who led the Gators with four goals in the match. “It’s hard to sub in so quickly and then to come into the game and get right into it. And I think she did a great job. She had some nice saves for us.”
Wilcox also played during the final 8 minutes of Florida’s 13-7 win against High Point on Sunday. She allowed three goals and saved four.
But against the Seawolves, Wilcox was solid.
Stony Brook’s Hillier had two consecutive free-position shots in 11 seconds, but Wilcox held strong. She saved both tries.
After four consecutive saves by Wilcox, the Gators scored four straight goals.
Petersen slipped a shot past Wilcox with 12 seconds remaining in the game. Despite the late blemish, Wilcox finished with five saves on six shots.
All five saves came from shots 4 meters out or closer.
“Our defense is very comfortable playing in front of her,” O’Leary said. “They think she’s good. We think she’s great. Everybody is pleased that she is back there, and if Mikey is not having the kind of day that we think she needs to have, Mary-Sean being able to step in there just adds to our program.”
Senior Brittany Dashiell (left) attempts a shot during Florida’s 18-13 exhibition win against England on Jan. 24 at Dizney Stadium. Dashiell and the Gators defeated Stony Brook 16-9 on Wednesday.