GAINESVILLE, FL (via University of Florida Communications) - The Florida Gators are pleased to announce that the lacrosse team will join the BIG EAST conference for the 2015 season. The move comes after the dissolution of the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC), where the Gators have competed for the past five years.
"We're very excited for this next step for Florida lacrosse," Gator head coach Amanda O'Leary said. "We enjoyed the high level of competition in the ALC, and are looking forward to the new challenges the BIG EAST will provide. We've built a legacy of success during our first five years and that's something we look to continue while competing in the BIG EAST."
Vanderbilt will also be making the move to the BIG EAST from the ALC, keeping the rivalry intact for Florida.
For competition in 2015, the conference will include eight teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Georgetown, Marquette, Temple, Vanderbilt and Villanova.
"We're excited to welcome Florida and Vanderbilt as affiliate members of the BIG EAST Conference," said Chris Schneider, BIG EAST Associate Commissioner for Olympic Sports. "Both programs have proven histories of success and will reinforce the strength and high level of play BIG EAST women's lacrosse is known for."
The Gators finished the 2014 season with an 18-3 record after falling to Northwestern in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Florida swept the ALC regular season and tournament titles that helped the Gators earn a No. 4 seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Florida faced Cincinnati in 2014, winning the contest 19-6. Overall, the Gators have a 5-1 record against teams in current alignment of the BIG EAST. Louisville, which leaves the league for the ACC in 2015, swept the BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles in 2014, earning the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Georgetown was awarded an at-large big; both Georgetown and Louisville advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to North Carolina and Northwestern, respectively.