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Sunday, February 05, 2023
<p>Sammi Burgess runs toward the net during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Feb. 12 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.</p>

Sammi Burgess runs toward the net during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Feb. 12 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Beating a team 17-3 in the first half is not winning — it’s complete dominance.

On Tuesday, the No. 4 Gators (8-1, 1-0 American Lacrosse Conference) not only beat Winthrop (2-4) 21-5, they outshot, outnumbered and outsmarted the Eagles in every way.

In the first half alone, UF had 11 players score. It’s almost become habitual for the Florida lacrosse team to have more than five scorers in a game and to finish with a blowout win.

The juniors and seniors left on the team will be the first to tell you that its new system of scoring is a big reason for Florida’s success.

Coach Amanda O’Leary has preached that playing as a unit is what makes this young team so much different from its predecessor.

However, it wasn’t just Florida’s scoring that allowed them to dominate the Winthrop, but the Gators’ ability to win draw controls (20-8), ground balls (14-9) and free-position shots (7-8 to 0-1) that put the final nail in the coffin.

Florida also used Winthrop’s slow and sloppy back-zone coverage to its advantage. With junior Shannon Gilroy outrunning every midfielder and defender who got in her way, and freshman Mollie Stevens sweeping balls under the Eagles goalkeepers feet, the Gators’ offense was unstoppable.

“If someone’s having a bad day, then someone else is having a good day and we can count on everyone on the team,” Gilroy said.

Florida got off to an early start, scoring the first point of the game just 25 seconds after the first draw control. However, the Eagles countered and held the game tied. But with Winthrop committing multiple fouls within just 10 minutes of the first half, Florida was able to put nine points on the board — five of which came from free-position shots.

“We practice 8-meters everyday at practice,” freshman Sammi Burgess said. “I think we dealt with it pretty well. … I think we handled the physicality just because our defense is really physical in practice. Like honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever play a defense better than ours.”

Florida went into its matchup against Winthrop focusing on the backer defense that the Eagles would be throwing at it. But the Gators’ speed and constant focus on the defense in practice made Winthrop’s effort ineffective.

“Our offense was based on getting the ball around and finding that backside,” Gilroy said. “We put many different people on that backside to get the goal.”

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With a win against Winthrop in the books, No. 4 Florida will head to No. 3 Syracuse to face off in a top-five matchup on Saturday at noon.

Follow Eden Otero on Twitter @edenotero_l

Sammi Burgess runs toward the net during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Feb. 12 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

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