By: Karuga Koinange, Sports Editor
File photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Towson women’s lacrosse earned a hardfought 14-11 win over No. 6 Florida Wednesday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. This victory marks the team’s second top-10 win of the season.
Despite the impressive win, Head Coach Sonia LaMonica does not believe that the team is playing at the highest level it’s capable of.
“As coaches, we’re always pushing to be better,” LaMonica said. “We always want to get a little better each day and that’s the goal of this journey each year. Do I think we had our best game? No, but I think we had a real team effort last night. They played their hearts out and played together.”
The Tigers (6-2) started off sloppy, allowing the Gators (6-3) to capture a 3-0 lead just under 10 minutes into the first half.
Redshirt senior attacker Gabby Cha finally got Towson on the board midway through the half on an unassisted score.
The road team remained aggressive throughout the period, forcing several fouls on Florida’s defense. The Tigers earned a free position attempt and sophomore midfielder Shelby Stack cashed in on the opportunity with a goal to cut the Gators lead to one.
“Our players remained aggressive and they were ready for physical play from Florida which we definitely saw, but they matched up to that and played tough,” LaMonica said.
The Gators looked to extend their lead, but could not get any shots past sophomore goalkeeper Kiley Keating. She finished the game with a career-high 11 saves, leading a stingy Towson defense.
“[Kiley had] incredible focus,” LaMonica said. “Kiley was really locked in. Her defense in front of her was crushing it and allowing Kiley to see shots. That worked in her favor. She also stepped up and made some outstanding saves.”
The Tigers turned defense into offense as they cleared the ball of Keating’s save and tied the score on a goal from freshman attacker Kaitlin Thornton. Thornton also posted a career-high with four goals on the day.
“The style that we played with really opened up opportunities for her and for others,” LaMonica said. “She did a great job of finishing which is something she focused on doing a little better job of. She really dialed in and focused on her part and she finished hard against a great goalie in Florida.”
Cha added another goal on the team’s next possession to give Towson its first lead of the game, but Florida answered back with a goal of its own just under one minute later to knot the score up at 4-4.
The Tigers closed out the half on a high note with an impressive 4-0 run. Thornton scored twice during that run while senior midfielder Emily Gillingham and junior attacker Carly Tellekamp each added one goal to give the visitors an 8-4 lead going into the break.
“We wanted to capitalize on unsettled situations and really continue to play throughout stops and slow breaks,” LaMonica said.
Towson came out firing in the second half as senior midfielder Kaitlyn Montalbano ripped in a goal less than 20 seconds into the period and Thornton recorded her third goal of the day off a feed from Gillingham a few minutes later.
The home team scored its first goal of the half just under 10 minutes into the period, but Montalbano quickly responded with a goal off a pass from junior attacker Natalie Sulmonte.
The Tigers scored two more goals to go up 13-5 with 12 minutes left to play, but the Gators looked to fight back as junior midfielder Sydney Pirreca scored two straight goals for the home team to cut the deficit to six.
Florida tried to stay on the attack, but Keating’s saves helped Towson run time off the clock.
“[The Gators] have a lot of great shooters,” LaMonica said. “They shoot from various areas, both inside and outside of the eight-meter line so coming into the game Kiley was ready for that and she did an outstanding job.”
Sulmonte scored on a free position shot, essentially sealing the win with six minutes left to play.
The Gators rallied late, going on a 4-0 run to close the game, but they did not have enough time to complete their comeback attempt.
The Tigers look to continue their impressive play when the team travels to Reese Stadium to face off against Yale Friday afternoon. Game time is slated for 4 p.m.