Florida lacrosse wins first ALC Tournament title

There have been plenty of firsts for the young Florida Gators lacrosse program but few will be as memorable as what the team accomplished on Saturday, defeating the Northwestern Wildcats 14-7 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL to capture the 2012 ALC Tournament Championship.

No. 3 Florida (17-2), the top seed in the tournament, played stellar defense throughout the contest and used seven clutch goals and a career performance by freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy to upend No. 1 Northwestern for the second time this season and third time in the last two years.

The victory marked the first ALC tournament title in school history and the third conference championship overall as UF has won the league’s regular season title in each of the last two years.

The teams traded goals to open the match, but the Gators went on a 4-0 scoring stretch including two goals each by Gilroy and junior attacker Kitty Cullen to take an early 5-1 lead. UF was able to maintain that four-goal advantage through the break by matching both goals the Wildcats scored down the stretch and taking a 7-3 lead into the half.

Florida and Northwestern took turns scoring in the second half with the Gators’ lead never dipping below three goals for the duration of the contest. In fact, once UF’s lead was cut to three, Florida scored three-straight goals to jump ahead 11-5 with 12:44 left in the match. The Gators held on down the stretch, using a combination of tough defense, controlled ball handling and consistent scoring to outlast the Wildcats and pick up the hard-fought victory.

Joining Gilroy’s efficient, effective and dominating offensive performance (seven goals on nine shots with three draw controls) were Cullen (three goals on six shots) and junior A Caroline Chesterman (two goals on three shots). Midfielders junior Brittany Dashiell and freshman Nora Barry added a goal each.

Florida handed Northwestern their worst loss in nine years and is proving to be a major thorn in the side of a team that has won six of the last seven national titles. The Gators are 3-1 against the Wildcats over the last two seasons with all three victories resulting in ALC titles (two regular season, one tournament). Florida is also the first team besides Northwestern to win the ALC Tournament in the event’s six-year history.

The Gators will now set their sights on the 2012 NCAA Tournament where UF may very well earn the No. 1 overall seed in the event. Either way, Florida will play host at least through the quarterfinals of the event as long as they are awarded a top-four seed.

ALC Tournament MVP: Junior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher
ALC All-Tournament Team: Brittany Dashiell, Shannon Gilroy, Mikey Meagher, junior defenders Sam Farrell and Jamie Reeg

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TWO BITS: women’s basketball, Frazier, Strong

1 » Participating in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center-hosted Gator Holiday Classic, Florida Gators women’s basketball (10-3) defeated the Alabama State Hornets (2-7) and Robert Morris Colonials (4-6) in consecutive days to capture the tournament title. Florida’s freshman guard Brittany Shine was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Performer after accounting for 47 points and 10 assists in a two-game span. Also honored after the event was freshman G Jattera Bonds, who scored 16 points and notched 12 assists to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. The Gators dominated the Hornets 95-38 on Monday and took it to the Colonials 70-50 on Tuesday.

3 » With Florida basketball struggling already this season, there is plenty of anticipation from fans to see 2011 five-star shooting guard Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) burst on the scene next season. While Beal is expected to be the next great player to step foot in the O’Connell Center, 2012 four-star SG Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL) – also a Gators commitment – is making a name for himself during his junior season. Frazier posted 45 points in the Bright House Networks Tournament Championship game on Tuesday, leading his team to a 71-69 victory while earning MVP honors. He scored 110 total points in three games in the tournament including 40 in the semifinal game.

Extra BIT » Former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, currently in his first season as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, led his team to victory in the 2010 Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, FL. Strong’s Cardinals defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and head coach Larry Fedora, a former offensive coordinator of the Gators. Louisville’s victory marked the team’s seventh bowl game win since it started playing football in 1912 and capped an inaugural season in which Strong posted a 7-6 record. The Cardinals finished 4-8 in 2009.

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TWO BITS: Volleyball earns No. 1 NCAA seed

1 » No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball earned the program’s first-ever No. 1 national seed on Sunday when the NCAA officially announced the 64-team bracket for the 2010 NCAA Volleyball Championship. One of six Southeastern Conference schools to qualify for the tournament, Florida will take its 22-match winning streak into the event. The Gators finished the regular season a perfect 20-0 in SEC competition, the first team to do so since the schedule was adjusted in 2006. Florida (27-1) will face South Carolina State (17-22) to start off their tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. as the first and second rounds will be hosted from Dec. 3-4 in Gainesville, FL. Also in UF’s region are Florida State (21-10) and Georgia Southern (27-8). Though being a No. 1 seed is new for the Gators, hosting NCAA action is not; Florida has started the NCAA Tournament at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center 19 times in the last 20 seasons.

The Gators completed their perfect SEC slate on Friday by defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-12) on the road at the Volleyball Competition Facility in Columbia, SC. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers notched a team-high nine kills while junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy totaled seven kills, 12 assists, four digs, four service aces and a season-high five blocks.

2 » Florida women’s basketball was also busy over the weekend; the ladies were victorious in back-to-back contests to win the 2010 Dead River Company Classic in Orno, ME. The Gators (5-1) defeated the South Alabama Jaguars (3-3) 61-51 on Friday and ended the short tournament with a 52-43 win over the Navy Midshipmen (4-2) on Saturday. Florida junior center Azania Stewart was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after totaling 24 rebounds in two games. UF redshirt junior guard Jordan Jones was placed on the All-Tournament Team due to her stellar performance including 18 points.

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SIX BITS: Haslem, volleyball, WNIT, golf, swimming

1 » Injured Saturday while facing the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left foot and is expected to be out until at least the NBA All-Star break in February – if not longer. Haslem’s injury – should it require surgery – could keep him out the entire regular season though he would likely be able to return for the playoffs.

2 » No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball (26-1, 19-0 SEC) continued its roll through the Southeastern Conference on Sunday with a 3-1 (25-19, 33-31, 25-27, 25-13) victory over the No. 16 LSU Tigers (24-4, 15-4 SEC) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, LA. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers accounted for a career-high 21 kills, and junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel registered 15 kills. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy’s dominance continued with her 14th straight double-double; she notched a season-high 31 assists along with 13 kills and eight digs. Florida ends regular season action on Friday on the road at South Carolina before beginning the 2010 SEC Tournament as the likely No. 1 overall seed.

Four more BITS on women’s basketball’s near upset victory, an achievement for men’s golf and updates on swimming and diving…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Haslem, volleyball, WNIT, golf, swimming

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