Doubling up on league titles in its first season as a member of a new conference, Florida Gators lacrosse dominated the Connecticut Huskies 20-6 to win 2015 Big East Tournament.
Florida, which ended the regular season with an 11-10 loss to UConn in Storrs, Connecticut, found its way back into town for the tournament, routing Villanova 18-8 in the semifinals on Thursday before squaring off and earning a measure of revenge over the Huskies on Saturday. UF led 8-2 early and held on for the rout.
As such, the Gators improved to 14-5 on the season (8-1 against Big East opponents) and earned a berth to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Senior midfielder Shannon Gilroy posted four goals in the finals and was named the Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The nation’s leader in points (84) and a finalist for the 2015 Tewaaraton Award (given annually to the country’s best lacrosse players), she also helped Florida set a number of Big East Tournament records including most goals (38) and assists (17).
Leading the way for the Gators in the match, however, was junior attacker Devon Schneider, who notched a team-high five goals including this behind-the-back score that was the highlight of the match.
Florida lacrosse has been a tremendous success under head coach Amanda O’Leary, the program’s first and only coach since the six-year-old program was founded in 2010.
The Gators have won five straight conference regular season titles (four in the American Lacrosse Conference before moving to the Big East this season) and three conference tournament titles (2012, 2014-15) in their last four chances. Florida will be advancing to its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament; UF has advanced to the quarterfinals in each of the last four seasons and moved on to the Final Four in 2012.
Florida will play at Stanford to open the NCAA Tournament on Friday with O’Leary coaching against her daughter, freshman midfielder Madison O’Leary, who is a member of the Cardinal lacrosse program. The winner will take on No. 2 seed North Carolina.