When Florida’s women’s lacrosse team plays at Johns Hopkins Saturday, it will be more like a home game for about half the Gators’ roster. Thirteen players hail from Maryland and 11 of them played at Baltimore area high schools.
The most recent Gators starting lineup includes Ashley Bruns from Mount Hebron; Brittany Dashiell, John Carroll; Sam Farrell, Severna Park; Haydon Judge, St. Mary’s; Kayla Stolins, Loch Raven; and Emily Dohony, Hereford. All-American Kitty Cullen, McDonogh, has been sidelined for three games with an injury but is expected to return Saturday.
The Gators, ranked No. 4 with a 12-2 record, are making their second appearance in Baltimore this season, having won at UMBC on Feb. 19, but the trip never gets old.
“We get so excited to come up there,” Bruns said. “We’re flying into BWI, that’s where we’re from, so we get so pumped to be there. Our friends get to come to the game and our family members. I think at UMBC, I had every single family member from uncles to aunts. My brother just had a baby, so he brought her and I hadn’t seen her yet. It was really amazing.”
Last week, Bruns became the first player in the Gators three-year history to reach the 200-point plateau. The junior third-team All-American, who set a Mount Hebron record with 103 goals her senior year, leads a balanced Gators attack with 36 goals and 18 assists and has 130 goals and 77 assists in three years.
“It means a lot to me,” Bruns said of the 200 milestone. “It’s an incredible goal to reach. Never in a million years did I think about accomplishing this, but I have great coaches and great teammates to play with and I never could have done it without them.”
The Gators, in their third season as a varsity program, have only one senior on the roster – Caroline Cochran from St. Mary’s – and have relied on the 13 current juniors, including all the players listed above, since they arrived as freshmen, but Bruns said the infusion of some strong freshman talent has invigorated the team.
“We’re all the same age and have been playing together for a while and now eight new players come in and that helps us step up our game as juniors,” Bruns said. “We have some great freshmen and it feels like they’ve been around for years.”
The Gators, who won the American Lacrosse Conference regular-season title and reached the NCAA quarterfinals last season, come to Homewood Field boasting the best numbers in Division I. Not only do they lead the country in scoring offense with 17.57 goals per game, but they also allow fewer goals than any other team, just 6.36 per game.
They begin the toughest stretch of their season at Johns Hopkins with two more ALC games to follow. After hosting Vanderbilt, they travel to No. 1 and defending national champion Northwestern on April 22 where they hope to pull their second regular-season upset after beating the Wildcats 13-11 last year in Gainesville.
The Gators roster also includes Colby Rhea, McDonogh; Rachel Smith, Mount Hebron; and Cara Canington, C. Milton Wright; as well as two other Marylanders -- Hayley Katzenberger, from Holy Cross, and Mikki Offit, from Holton-Arms.