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Archive for February 15, 2019

Feb. 15, 2019 — The team of the future for a decade

It was 11 autumns ago when we first laid eyes on the Florida women’s lacrosse team during a fall-ball playday at Georgetown University.

The Florida program has been a perennial “one to watch,” the last decade, a reflection of the athletic department’s willingness to invest long-term in the program, building a lacrosse-specific stadium and hiring an elite coach in Amanda O’Leary.

O’Leary repaid the program by attracting amazing talent from top programs around the U.S. The Florida program has also had a knock-on effect on scholastic lacrosse in the state, to the point where your current leader in all-time assists calls the state home.

Three years into the team’s existence, Florida was eight seconds from making the national championship game, but a potential overtime goal was waved off for an illegal stick.

The Gators have been trying to find their way back to that level ever since. To that end, they have been scheduling opponents like last night’s foe, Maryland.

The thing is, while games like this are a good measuring stick of where a team is, it also shows how far a team has to go. Whereas last year the Gators lost by two goals in College Park, Florida fell this year by a score of 17-12.

Maryland, as is its wont, had fast starts at the start of the game and the start of the second half. If you counted only the first 10 minutes of each half, Maryland’s score was 11-1. But there are 30 minutes per half, and, to Florida’s credit, managed to chip away at the Terp defense, thanks to an eight-goal effort by Lindsay Ronbeck.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the Gators improve over the course of the season; they appear to have good scoring and better-than-average goalkeeping, but it will be the midfield — both at the draw and in transition — which will determine their chances.