April 20, 2013
Score: No. 3 Florida 22, No. 4 Northwestern 4
Site: Gainesville, Fla. (Donald R. Dizney Stadium)
Records: Northwestern (13-2, 4-1 ALC), Florida (16-1, 4-1 ALC)
Next NU Event: Wednesday, April 24 at Notre Dame South Bend, Ind. 6 p.m. CT
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 4 Northwestern (13-2, 4-1 ALC) ran into a third-ranked Florida team firing on all cylinders Saturday, falling in its final American Lacrosse Conference contest of the year, 22-4, in Gainesville. Senior Erin Fitzgerald twice found the back of the net for NU while Taylor Thornton and freshman Nancy Dunbar each added one goal for the 'Cats.
Northwestern junior Alyssa Leonard recorded five draw controls to raise her season total to 96, surpassing her previous career bests of 90 and 91 and moving her to within 14 of the NU single-season record. Senior Gabriella Flibotte came up with four draw controls on the day while NU's Beatrice Conley and Haydyn Anigian tied for a game-high four ground balls.
Hosting its first-ever Senior Day for the fourth-year program, Florida scored on its first two possessions of the game, first on a shot from distance by Shannon Gilroy and then on a drive to the net by Gabi Wiegand with 1:01 elapsed in the game. Wiegand struck again off an 8-meter restart, and Ashley Bruns then capitalized on an extra-man opportunity to establish a 4-0 lead with 3:30 gone by.
Two early saves by Florida's Mikey Meagher kept NU off the board until, after the Gators established a 5-0 advantage, Taylor Thornton netted an 8-meter goal with 17:59 left in the first. However, Florida responded when it turned a Northwestern turnover in the midfield into a fast-break goal just over a minute later.
Hampered by eight first-half turnovers, Northwestern fell behind 8-1 before Fitzgerald scored her first of the game and 47th of the year off a free position attempt with 13:24 to go before halftime. But Florida continued to execute efficiently on attack, scoring three more times in a span of 2:24 to open up an 11-2 lead with 8:16 still on the clock in the first.
The hosts took a 13-2 advantage into the locker rooms despite outshooting Northwestern by a narrow 16-14 margin. NU also had a 14-10 edge in ground balls in the opening period.
Halftime did little to slow the momentum of the Gators, who scored twice in less than three minutes out of the break. Fitzgerald scored her second of the day when she dodged across the fan and buried a right-handed shot past Meagher, but it proved to be Northwestern's final score until 14 seconds remained in the game as Florida held on to earn the top seed in next month's ALC Tournament in Baltimore.
Florida finished with a 28-18 advantage in shots and a 17-11 lead in draw controls. Gilroy led the Gators with seven points on five goals and two assists.
Next week, Northwestern plays its final regular-season road game of 2013 when it travels to No. 7 Notre Dame for a Wednesday evening matchup of Midwest rivals. NU then celebrates Senior Day when it hosts Penn at Lakeside Field on Saturday (April 27), with opening draw set for 1 p.m. CT.
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