Syracuse never led and came as close as one goal early in the first half, but it wasn't enough as the Gator's lethal combination of a balanced offense and defense led the way, defeating the Orange 14-10 in the Orange Bowl Lacrosse Classic in Miami, FL.
Senior Kitty Cullen led the Gators on the evening with four goals while senior attack Gabi Wiegand and sophomore midfielder Shannin Gilroy contributed with four points each. The trio combined for nine of 14 goals for head coach Amanda O'Leary's squad.
Florida jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on three unanswered goals from Cullen, Wiegand and Gilroy, but Syracuse refused to quit, countering Florida's hot start with back-to-back goals from senior attack Michelle Tumolo and junior attack Alyssa Murray. The duo's goals would cut the lead to one with roughly 20 minutes left in the first half.
The Gators defense also held up its end of the bargain, holding Syracuse scoreless for roughly eight minutes of play in the first half and forced Orange head coach Gary Gait to take his first timeout on the evening to try and re-energize his team. Syracuse responded, extending its defense past the 12 meter and forcing a Gator turnover. Senior midfielder Bridget Daley would end the scoring drought for the Orange at the 9:15 mark, weaving-in-and-out of two defenders to pull the Orange within three.
Despite a back-and-forth scoring and possession battle, the Gators headed into the locker room with a 10-6 halftime lead.
The Orange scored three of the four goals at the start of the second half and prompted coach O'Leary to call a timeout after a Katie Webster goal at the 19:06 mark.
Gilroy answered, notching her third goal of the game, followed by goals from Cullen and Ashley Bruns to push the Gators lead back to five with 10:49 to play. Having a relatively quiet season, sophomore attack Kailah Kempney would get the Orange to within four at the 9:54 mark, but Florida was not going to let this one slip by.
"We play this tough schedule for a reason," said coach Gait. "We want to learn a little bit about ourselves and learn what we need to work on for the end of the season. We're 2-2. We have one big win and two games where we learned a lot. We have another 13 games to work on some things and get ready. There are more challenges ahead. Hopefully, by the end of the year we'll be ready to play."
Tumolo led Syracuse with five points (four goals, one assist) and moves into third place on the Orange's all-time scoring list with 248 points and tied Monica Jones for fifth place on the career goals scored leader list (129 points). Murray finished with two goals and two assists. She know has 109 goals, which moves her to eighth place on Syracuse's all-time leader list.
Webster, Daley, Kempney, and Linley Block each netted one. Syracuse goalies, sophomore Kelsey Richardson (three saves) and junior Alyssa Costantino (one save), accounted for four total saves.
Syracuse falls to 2-2 on the season and will be back on the road to face No. 16 Towson on Saturday, March 9, at 1 p.m.