WOMEN'S LAX FALLS AT FLORIDA, 15-3, DESPITE O'KEEFE'S 13-SAVE EFFORT

KATHLEEN O'KEEFE

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Ashley Bruns recorded six goals and three assists to propel the University of Florida women’s lacrosse team to Saturday afternoon’s 15-3 victory against the University of New Hampshire at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

UNH lost its third consecutive game to fall to 4-3. Florida is now 5-3.

Wildcats’ goalkeeper Kathleen O’Keefe (Chatham, N.J.), who recorded 14 saves in first career start last week at the University of Maryland, was credited with 13 saves and charged with 13 goals in 55:47 vs. the Gators; the America East Player of the Game also recorded three caused turnovers and three ground balls. Kate Gunts (Wilton, Conn.) went the rest of the way and made one save with two goals allowed.

UF starting goalie Cara Canington stopped six shots. Mike Meagher played the final 3:35 and did not face a shot on goal.

The Gators, who were denied by O’Keefe on their initial three shots of the game, took a 1-0 lead at 22:11 on a goal by Caroline Chesterman off a feed by Bruns. Caroline Cochran, with the assistance of Brittany Dashiell, extended the lead to 2-0 at 14:54.

Florida struck again at 13:37 –Colby Rhea set up by Bruns -- to generate a three-goal advantage and Bruns netted unassisted goals at 11:42 and 8:56 to give the home team a 5-0 lead.

Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) scored her team-leading 15th goal of the season at 7:23 to trim the Wildcats’ deficit to 5-1.

Bruns’ third goal – and fifth point -- of the first half reestablished a five-goal cushion, 6-1, at 6:12. She then potted an unassisted goal at 2:30 to push the lead to 7-1.

The Gators took that six-goal lead into halftime. They generated a 17-5 shot advantage and tallied a 7-5 edge in ground balls in the opening 30 minutes.

UNH opened the second half strong with Rausch winning possession on the opening draw. JoJo Curro (Amherst, N.H.) fired a shot high of the cage, but the ‘Cats maintained possession and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) who missed the previous two games due to injury, fired a shot into the goal to lift UNH within 7-2 at 28:48.

New Hampshire’s Ally Stager (Reading, Mass.) won the ensuing draw control, then Shaunna Kaplan (Framingham, Mass.), who saw her 18-game point-scoring streak come to an end, was denied by Canington.

After the teams exchanged possessions, Curro converted a pass from Rausch into a goal at 24:19 to trim the deficit to 7-3.

Canington then preserved Florida’s four-goal lead when she denied Curro on a free position at 23:16 and Allie Bratton (Windermere, Fla.) at 21:20.

UF’s Julie Schindel then scored an unassisted goal at 20:37 and Cochran, with the assistance of Chesterman, struck 66 seconds later to push the score to 9-3.

It was then UNH’s O’Keefe turn to fend off the opposition’s attack, as she turned aside shots by Kitty Cullen at 19:11 and Bruns at 17:17. O’Keefe also denied both Janine Hillier and Bruns before Bruns scored at 13:52 to give Florida a 10-3 lead.

O’Keefe stopped Cullen’s free position shot at 12:53, but the Gators retained possession and Dashiell converted Cochran’s pass into a goal at 12:43 to extend the margin to 11-3. Rhea scored consecutive goals at 9:39 and 5:17 – the second on a free position shot – to give UF a double-digit lead, 13-3.

Both backup goalkeepers entered the game at that point, and Florida struck twice more on goals by Bruns at 2:42 and Kaley Pendley – from Bruns – at 1:36 to close the scoring.

The Gators finished with a 37-11 shot advantage and a 15-8 edge in ground balls. They also committed fewer turnovers, 14-20.

New Hampshire returns to action March 28 at home against Fairfield University. Game time at Memorial Field is 12 p.m.

View: Mobile | Desktop