March 7, 2012

Florida Rebounds With Defensive-Minded Win at Georgetown

Mikey Meagher made 15 saves against Georgetown, a single-game record for the third-year Florida program.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Live Blog Replay

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Florida junior goalkeeper Mikey Meagher made a program-record 15 saves to key a 12-9 win over host No. 15 Georgetown (2-1) on Wednesday afternoon. The No. 5 Gators' steady defensive effort held off the Hoyas' deliberate attack, boosting the team to a 5-2 overall record and erasing the memory of Saturday's overtime loss to Syracuse.

"Everything we do is for each other, and it pretty much pays off," said Meagher. "I sat there, took my time and kinda talked myself through the play to not lose focus."

Junior attacker Gabi Wiegand paced the Gators with five goals, and junior attacker Kitty Cullen added two goals and three assists.

The Gators opened scoring with Carolina Chesterman's (two goals) unassisted goal at 26:43, and then added two more goals swiftly thereafter. Trailing 3-0 at 25:15, Georgetown head coach Ricky Fried called a time out, and the Hoyas came out of the break to score four in a row, capped by Meghan Farrell's high shot, which Meagher got a stick on but could not stop at 9:03.

Georgetown briefly held a 4-3 lead, but the Gators controlled the subsequent draw and Ashley Bruns (two goals, two assists) tied the game just 30 seconds later. Florida never relinquished the lead after Bruns' tally, and led 7-5 at the half. 

"We've preached to them day in and day out, it's the team that's going to win it. It's not going to be individuals defensively," Florida head coach Mandee O'Leary said. "One goal didn't lead to two to three to four. Against Syracuse, we weren't able to stop the bleeding."

The disciplined Hoya attack is built to frustrate opponents' defense and catch them in mistakes, but the Gators matched Georgetown's patience step-for-step. After their early four-goal run, the Hoyas moved too deliberately and never managed back-to-back goals.

The Florida defense started double-teaming Georgetown earlier in the second half as well, limiting Georgetown's quality looks. The Hoyas struggled with shot selection, putting only 24 of their 39 shots on the cage. Freshman attacker Caroline Tarzian (Garden City, N.Y.) led the Hoyas with three goals and two assists. Goalie Barb Black had four saves in the loss.

The Gators' steady effort versus Georgetown is a welcome change from the streaky game they played versus the Orange, in which they scored three goals in the final three minutes to force overtime, but then lost in the double OT.

"How you rebound is the question. I think we did a really nice job of rebounding," said O'Leary. "Obviously, the Syracuse game was a huge disappointment. We had to regroup. We have to compete. We have to play two 30-minute halves, a full 60 minute game."


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