It wasn’t as easy as last year, but the Florida Gator lacrosse team got its season off to a good start with an 18-13 victory over the English National Team in exhibition play on Thursday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. For the second consecutive season, England traveled to Gainesville to scrimmage against the Gators, a good measuring stick for head coach Amanda O’Leary and her team.
Thursday’s game won’t remind anyone of the Gators dominating 17-2 exhibition victory over England last season, but the Gators still had plenty of positives to take away from this one. It was a tale of two halves for the Gators, who, with the majority of their starters in, raced past England to an 11-3 halftime lead. But defensive lapses in the second half allowed England back into the game, and they outscored the Gators 10 to 7 in the second half. Coach O’Leary said she was impressed with her team in the first half, but disappointed in the second half.
Though the new freshmen were celebrated in this one, with newcomer Lauren Lea chipping in with two goals and an assist, it was the veterans who led the way for Florida. Senior attack Ashley Bruns had a huge night with seven points (five goals, two assists), while sophomore Nicole Graziano scored four goals and had an assist.
The Gators have two weeks now to take everything they learned against England and apply it to their season opener against North Carolina, a team the Gators have yet to beat as a program, and O’Leary thinks the break, while lengthy, will be essential in preparing her team.
The Gators open their regular season on February 9th against the Tarheels in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Opening draw is set for 12 p.m.