Florida’s women’s lacrosse team will not have the benefit of playing at home for the next month.
Its next four games will be on the road before finally returning to Donald R. Dizney Stadium on March 13.
First up for the No. 5 Gators is a matchup against No. 16 Loyola on Saturday in Baltimore.
Here are two things to look out for as UF prepares to play its third ranked opponent of the season:
Taryn VanThof, one of Florida’s two assistant coaches, will be returning to her alma mater this weekend.
As a Greyhound, VanThof was a three-time IWLCA All-American midfielder and led Loyola to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2015.
If coaching against her former college team wasn’t enough, VanThof will also be coaching against her sister, midfielder Taylor VanThof, who is excellent in the draw circle.
Taylor won a school-record 146 draw controls as a sophomore and followed it up with 119 draw controls in her junior year, becoming the first player in Greyhound history to reach 100 draws in multiple seasons.
The younger VanThof is now 26 draw controls away from owning the program’s career record held by the older VanThof (318).
Taryn has played a crucial role in practice this week, showing Florida’s draw takers what to expect going up against his sister.
“When we need to mimic what Taylor is going to do, we put Taryn in the draw circle,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “It’s been very helpful for us.”
O’Leary made one notable change to the starting lineup in Saturday’s exhibition game against Scotland: replacing sophomore attacker Kassidy Bresnahan with freshman attacker Hannah Mardiney.
“We’re messing with the lineup all the time,” she said, “so we’re going to see a lot of changes throughout the season.”
Bresnahan started the first two games of the season against Colorado and Maryland, recording only one assist.
Mardiney made her presence felt with four assists to senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck against the No. 2 Terrapins on Feb. 14.
“She really came out of her shell against Maryland,” Ronbeck said. “She just did really well that night.”
It will be interesting to see if O’Leary goes with Mardiney over Bresnahan in the starting lineup against Loyola.
If the freshman puts on another impressive performance against a ranked opponent, she could earn a permanent spot in the starting 12.
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UF women's lacrosse coach Amanda O-Leary said the Gators are making some changing to starting lineup. Florida takes on Loyola on Saturday in Baltimore.