If it weren’t for solid goalkeepers, No. 4 Florida (8-2, 1-0 American Lacrosse Conference) might not have held it’s 17-12 loss within reach of a win.
The Gators faced-off against the No. 3-ranked Syracuse University (7-1) on Saturday, which brought Florida its first loss since the team’s season-opener against No. 1 University of North Carolina.
In the team’s loss at Syracuse, Florida struggled offensively, losing on draw controls (20-11), clears (20-20 to 15-19) and not connecting with the cage on shots.
But while the Florida offense struggled, its defense held control over Syracuse’s offense, which prevented a blowout win. Standouts for the Gators defensive effort included freshman midfielder Taylor Bresnahan, redshirt senior goalkeeper Cara Canington and sophomore goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox.
Canington had nine saves and three groundballs in 44:51 of contest play. Wilcox relieved Canington with 15:09 left in the contest, but in the short amount of time the sophomore was on the field, she managed to make five big saves in the final minutes of the game.
The two goalkeepers held off ‘Cuse’s offense well enough to give Florida a fighting chance in the second half, but with 19 turnovers against a No. 3-ranked team, playing sloppy was the Florida’s biggest issue.
Bresnahan and freshman defender Caroline Fitzgerald were helpful in slowing down fast breaks after turnovers. Bresnahan caused four turnovers for the day and took two groundballs. Her effort on caused turnovers allowed Florida to gain possession of the ball more in the second half when they weren’t winning draw controls.
Coach Amanda O’Leary was disappointed with the loss, but said in a release that the game did highlight some good things about the team.
“We committed too many turnovers against a team like Syracuse; you just can’t do that,” O’Leary said. “Overall, I think we were sloppy, but I saw bright spots in things like our 14 caused turnovers and Nora (Barry) and Taylor (Bresnahan) having nine of those.”
The Gators come home to face-off against Dartmouth, which is 3-2 for the season, on Tuesday.
Follow Eden Otero on Twitter @edenotero_l