Amanda O'Leary

Florida coach Amanda O’Leary (pictured) and the Gators lacrosse team return to Donald R. Dizney Stadium to face their fifth ranked opponent of the season.

 

The Florida’s women’s lacrosse team has not played at home since Feb. 14 when it lost to No. 2 Maryland 17-12.

A four-game road stretch ensued, with losses to then-No. 17 Loyola and Navy in Maryland followed by victories over Elon and High Point in North Carolina.

Now, the Gators (3-3) return home to host No. 4 Syracuse on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“I think we gained some resilience with some close games,” coach Amanda O’Leary said about the 2-2 road trek. “We learned how to fight through every 60-minute session.”

UF’s toughness will be put to the test against the Orange (6-2) with the only two losses coming against No. 1 Boston College and No. 2 Maryland.

“This is a huge rivalry game for us,” O’Leary said. “It’s just a real pleasure for us to play a team as good as Syracuse.”

Attackers Emily Hawryschuk and Nicole Levy lead a high-powered Syracuse offense with 26 goals and 16 goals, respectively. Three other players have notched 14 goals apiece.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Orange allow an average of 9.75 goals per game and have caused 100 turnovers through eight games.

Florida’s offense benefitted from the emergence of its underclassmen during away games.

Sophomore attacker Kassidy Bresnahan returned to the starting lineup against Elon and High Point after freshman attacker Hannah Mardiney replaced her following the defeat to the Terrapins.

Bresnahan recorded a season-best in points (3) and goals (2) against High Point on Saturday.

“I think I’ve been doing well,” Bresnahan said. “I just remember to work hard and do everything I’m told to do.”

Sophomore midfielder Eddy Shoop missed the first four games of the season with a hand injury but was cleared to play against Elon and High Point, scoring a goal in each.

“Eddy (Shoop) is playing lights out,” O’Leary said. “She’s worked really hard to get back, and I think you’ll see a lot of her tomorrow evening.”

The Gators have a difficult slate of games coming up, playing three top-10 opponents in a span of six days.

However, all of them are in the friendly confines of Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

“We’ve been on the road for a significant amount of time,” O’Leary said. “So it’s absolutely great to be home.”

Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at [email protected].