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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
<p>Kitty Cullen attempts a shot during Florida's 14-7 win against Northwestern on May 5 at Dizney Stadium.</p>

Kitty Cullen attempts a shot during Florida's 14-7 win against Northwestern on May 5 at Dizney Stadium.

After jumping to an 8-4 lead against No. 12 Loyola in the second half, the second-ranked Gators found themselves on their heels.

Within 59 seconds, the Greyhounds scored three consecutive goals to bring the deficit to only one goal, the closest a game had been in the second half for Florida since trailing North Carolina by one in the season opener.

During those 59 seconds, coach Amanda O’Leary called a timeout after the second goal and told her team to take a deep breath.

“We are a really talented program, but sometimes in those clutch situations, we don't make very good decisions,” O’Leary said. “So we just needed to calm down, refocus and just get back to our game plan.”

Loyola got a quick goal to bring it to 8-7 at the 27:04 mark.

That’s the last time the Greyhounds were able to tally a goal.

O’Leary and her team took over scoring eight unanswered goals. 

The Gators (8-0) season-high 8-0 run in the second half resulted in their 16-7 victory over the Greyhounds (2-3) on Tuesday.

"It was definitely scary for a second when [Loyola] went on a run,” senior Kitty Cullen said. “This was one of the first times that we all took a deep breath, came out and did our thing.”

In that run, Florida amassed 13 shots that turned into eight goals, including three by Cullen herself.

"I think we owe [that run] to our coaches,” Cullen said. “They are just putting everyone in the right spots, giving us the right spots we need to go to and just exploiting the defense.”

The senior attacker grabbed five goals in the game to lead the team along with dishing out two assists.

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“That’s what we expect of Kitty,” O’Leary said, “And she certainly delivered today.”

Compared to Florida’s 13 shots, Loyola was only able to scrape together four shots during the span, three of which were saved by Florida goalkeeper Mikey Meagher.

Meagher, who last week was named ALC Defensive Player of the Week, performed like a defensive star, snatching and deflecting a total of eight saves while only allowing seven goals. She played all 60 minutes and earned her eighth win of the season.

Meagher bumped up her save percentage to .523, which is good for sixth in the nation.

The Gators are one of 18 teams to still be undefeated to this point, but they are the only team to play eight games. The second most are Navy and Maryland, who have only played five each.

Four of Florida’s games have been against top-20 opponents to this point, and that trend will not change as it travels and takes on No. 13 Dartmouth on Saturday.

Kitty Cullen attempts a shot during Florida's 14-7 win against Northwestern on May 5 at Dizney Stadium.

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