On a day when Gators fans were trying to make sense of another baffling setback for a Florida spring sport, the women on Florida's lacrosse team did what they do best: Win.
Florida crushed Penn State, 15-2, on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, to advance to the three-year-old program's first Final Four, and the score may not fully capture the Gators' dominance. Florida got three goals each from Tewaaraton Award finalist Brittany Dashiell and ALC Freshman of the Year Nora Barry, and two goals each from freshman Shannon Gilroy and juniors Kitty Cullen and Ashley Bruns, built a 5-1 lead in the first 15 minutes of play, shut out the Nittany Lions with a 7-0 second half, took 34 shots to Penn State's 12, and held 15-4 and 16-7 advantages on draws and ground balls, respectively.
And the Gators, currently the nation's No. 1 team and the top overall seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, did all that to the No. 13 team in the country.
Next, Florida will head to Stony Brook, New York, for the Final Four, where the Gators will meet one of the two teams that topped them this season, fourth-seeded Syracuse. The Orange took a 12-11 double overtime win in Gainesville on March 3, holding off a Florida team that never led in the game and got just one goal on 10 shots from Cullen. Syracuse dumped Dartmouth in its first NCAA Tournament game, then came back from a three-goal deficit with 8:25 remaining to beat No. 5 North Carolina in a 17-16 barn-burner.
Florida's game against Syracuse will take place on Friday, May 25, and will be available on ESPN3. The time of the game has not been announced.