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Saturday, May 25, 2024
<p>Shannon Kavanaugh</p>

Shannon Kavanaugh

It was a week of highs and lows for the Gators.

Last Saturday, they were swamped by a dominant Loyola-Maryland team that’s rose to the fifth-ranked team in the country, losing 17-6. They took out their frustrations against Kennesaw State on Wednesday, winning 21-6.

Saturday, No. 8 Florida will have its second top-five matchup of the season as No. 3 Stony Brook travels to Donald R. Dizney Stadium. The game starts at noon.

Last March, the then-No. 16 Gators had the upper hand, beating the then-No. 17 Seawolves 11-10 in New York.

Following the game, coach Amanda O’Leary credited the team’s stout performance on defense for their win. Florida held Stony Brook to 10-of-31 shooting.

It’s going to need a similar performance this weekend, as the team’s defense will be tasked with slowing down senior midfielder Ally Kennedy, who before the season was ranked the sixth-best player in the nation, man or woman, by Inside Lacrosse. This year she has 12 points off eight goals and four assists and is scoring at an 80 percent shooting percentage.

Florida currently sits at 49th in the nation for scoring defense, allowing 11.75 goals per game. It’s 106th in caused turnovers per game.

Much like last year, senior defender Cara Trombetta will lead the team’s defensive front, in the hopes of stopping Stony Brook’s No. 5 scoring offense that averages 18.5 goals per game. With her 10 saves per game, redshirt freshman goalie Sarah Reznick will most likely need to replicate the 14-save performance she had against then-No. 2 Maryland earlier this season to ensure the team’s win.

Offensively, the team will face off against a Stony Brook defense that is 45th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 11.5 goals per game.

Last March, Grace Haus led UF in scoring against the Seawolves with four goals. Now the junior attacker will be the team’s focal point on offense, alongside junior middie Shannon Kavanagh. Kavanagh is currently averaging 4.25 goals per game, 11th in the country. Though she’s only appeared twice this season, Haus’ six goals rank her third on the team.

But the X-factor heading into Saturday’s matchup is redshirt junior midfielder Brianna Harris. Against the Greyhounds, she scored a season-low two goals. The team’s leader in points (19) has scored or assisted on 26 percent of the team’s points.

Stony Brook presents a tough challenge. On paper, this year’s SBU team has improved compared to last year’s. Florida finds itself facing the toughest test of its young season; to pass, the team will need to replicate the same all-around performance it had when it beat Maryland two weeks ago.

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Follow Christian on Twitter @unofficialchris and contact him at cortega@alligator.org.

Shannon Kavanaugh

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