Club Women

February 26, 2010

Gainesville's Big Enough for Two Lax Powers

by David Ely | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Kate O'Linn and the Florida club team have fared just fine despite the rise of their varsity counterpart. These Gators are ranked No. 8 in this week's US Lacrosse WDIA poll, with an SWLL showdown Saturday at No. 11 Georgia.

© Dirk Dewachter

The much-publicized addition of the Florida varsity women’s lacrosse program had the potential to throw a gigantic wrench in the makeup of the Gators’ WDIA club team. In other situations, a varsity startup might poach the club team’s best players and leave the cupboard bare for next year.

But so far, the Gators' club team is doing just fine in WDIA play, despite the presence of their varsity sister. Apparently, Gainesville is big enough for the two of them.

“To be honest, it hasn’t affected us all that much,” Florida club co-coach Betsy Milligan said Thursday.

The Gators lost Marissa Higgins, their starting goalie from the 2009 season, who walked onto the varsity squad, but that's about all the change the club has endured.

Milligan said that the addition of the varsity team has been a handy tool for her club.

“We have some former players of ours that are on that team,” she said. “They can give us updates on drills that we can do.”

It also helps when Amanda O’Leary, the head coach of the varsity team, comes to the occasional practice, like she did last season. When O’Leary stopped by, Milligan said, she would check out how the girls were doing and pass along a few tips.

With a team to coach this year, O’Leary doesn’t come around as much, but now the club team has the opportunity to see college women’s lacrosse played at its highest level.

Milligan added: “It’s nice for the girls because they can go watch the varsity games. They can see a higher level of competition.”

The competition – and the play of the Gators – in the WDIA this spring also could be classified as elite.

The Gators currently are ranked No. 8 in the most recent US Lacrosse WDIA poll, and they boast a couple of impressive outings on their resume.

During the Santa Barbara Shootout, the Gators beat now-No. 10 BYU and No.  9 Colorado State and lost by just one goal to No. 2 UC Santa Barbara.

“We played really well out there,” Milligan said. “We only lost to Santa Barbara by one, and I think that’s a pretty good insight for what we can do in Nationals.”

Leading the young Gators is attacker Kate O’Linn, midfielder Nicole Nadeau and goalie Adrianna Paidas.

"I would say our goalie had like 10 saves against UC Santa Barbara,” Milligan said. “I think for goalies, it’s really hard once they start getting lit up. Paidas is really good about not letting things get her down."

And with Milligan and Marla Queris (the other co-coach) in place, the Gators have the necessary stability at the top to ensure a successful run. Milligan and Queris both played for the Gators, with 2006 and 2007 as the final seasons for Milligan and Queris, respectively.

The duo took over coaching duties in 2009, and Milligan said that the program is in a better place than it was a year ago.

“At this time last year were making a coaching change, so there was a lot of chaos.,” Milligan said. “Now we’re much more prepared.”

That they are. The Gators are undefeated in the SWLL with wins over Auburn, Miami and Florida State. The club travels to No. 11 Georgia on Saturday for a pivotal SWLL clash.

WDIA News & Notes

After boasting an 18-7 thrashing of UCLA last weekend, Santa Clara moved up to No. 1 in the latest US Lacrosse WDIA poll. Santa Clara is 7-0 on the season but has two top-five road contests in its immediate future. The Broncos travel to No. 5 Cal Poly on Saturday. Next week, they visit No. 2 UC Santa Barbara… Preseason No. 1-ranked Virginia Tech Club finally began its season last weekend -- and the results weren’t particularly impressive. The Hokies just barely beat James Madison Club and Maryland Club by scores of 12-11 and 10-8, respectively… After a frustrating weekend at the Santa Barbara Shootout, Michigan certainly took out its frustrations on Toledo. The Wolverines cruised to a 24-3 win. The 24 goals scored doubled Michigan’s previous top offensive outing.

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