Lindsey Ronbeck’s versatility was in full swing in her collegiate lacrosse debut.
In No. 7 Florida’s 15-6 win against a tough No. 13 Loyola team on Saturday, the freshman midfielder from Manhasset, New York, took four shots, collected a ground ball, caused two turnovers and won two draw controls.
However, Ronbeck hasn’t always been a midfielder. In fact, she was moved from line attacker before the season began.
Florida coach Amanda O’Leary admitted that it was hard to put a freshman into a complete positional transition while also helping her transition to a new home in a new state, especially before her first college game.
But Ronbeck has responded well to the change.
"She embraced it," O’Leary said. " She went 100 percent in with it and has worked really, really hard to be the best midfielder she could possibly be."
Ronbeck has also taken on the mentality that she isn’t just a goal scorer and, despite just the one game played, has proven that she is a midfielder who opponents need to be aware of.
"What she did between the 30s and on our defensive end," O’Leary said, "you just can’t put a price on."
While Ronbeck had a solid first game, junior Mollie Stevens was Florida’s biggest statistical contributor.
She provided one-third of the Gators’ scoring Saturday, setting a career-high in just the first game of the regular season.
While the box score may say otherwise — she had five goals, a career-high-tying eight shots and no assists — Stevens was making team plays against Loyola in ways she had yet to show prior to this season.
"What was most exciting for me was not only her ability to finish on the inside but also her ability to find her teammates, to make smart decisions when she didn’t have a shot," O’Leary said. "She passed it off, and I think that’s just a maturity level of our offense."
The level of maturation that O’Leary mentioned was on display against Loyola, both in the game and on paper.
Nine out of 15 goals scored by the Gators went assisted, which is almost 20 percent higher than last season’s ratio.
"Most of our goals were assisted, so it shows that our players are keeping their heads up," O’Leary said. "They feel confident in each other to be able to throw them the ball and let them finish."
A big mishap for Florida against the Greyhounds, however, was turnovers. UF committed 10, all in the second half.
O’Leary believes that seeing the mistakes in the film room will help her players learn from them.
"Once they make the mistake," O’Leary said, "they’ve realized they’ve made it and they want a do-over, but they’re not gonna get a do-over."
One strategy the coach turns to when these problems occur is creating uncomfortable situations in practice in order for her team to be ready for uneasy moments in the games.
Mental errors aside, the bright spots — passing, winning 50-50 balls and solid defense — outnumbered the not-so-bright spots against Loyola, and O’Leary was left feeling confident about her team’s direction.
"We obviously have a lot to prepare for," O’Leary said. "But I think we’re in a good place right now."