The No. 7 Florida lacrosse team did not waste much time getting acclimated to the new season Saturday afternoon.
Led by junior midfielder Mollie Stevens, the Gators handed No. 13 Loyola a 15-6 thrashing at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Though Loyola (0-1) scored the first goal of the game less than 90 seconds in, that trend did not continue. Throughout the rest of the first 30 minutes, the Greyhounds scored just three more times in a first half that saw Loyola go almost 15 minutes without a goal at one point.
The Gators (1-0) scored their first two goals within a span of 15 seconds to take the lead.
Loyola bounced back to bring the game even at 2-2, but UF scored just moments later and never looked back.
Florida went on a 4-0 run to pull ahead in the first half, led by two goals from junior midfielder Mollie Stevens.
That set the tone for the rest of the game for the Gators.
“Once you kinda get that under your belt,” junior attacker Sammi Burgess said, “...everybody just starts being a threat.”
Stevens scored three more goals on the day, setting a career-high with five.
Though it seemed as if she was making a statement as the goalscorer to replace the recently departed Shannon Gilroy, Stevens said that Florida’s goal count isn’t going to fall solely on her ability to score day-in and day-out.
“I don’t think it really relies on one person,” Stevens said. “We have a whole team of really good athletes, so it’ll be spread out all around.”
The Gators went into halftime with an 8-4 lead, with no turnovers to complement an impressive first-half scoreline.
However, the second half was a different story in the turnover department.
Florida committed 10 turnovers in the final 30 minutes of play, with only five of those being forced by Loyola.
“That’s something we really, really need to clean up,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “I think they’re just mental mistakes. I don't think they're anything more than that.”
Nevertheless, the Gators cruised to victory to the tune of a 7-2 second-half scoring output.
Senior Carly Ross and Stevens each had two goals in the half, with Ross assisting on the UF’s final score of the game — a goal from freshman midfielder Sydney Pirreca, her first as a Gator.
While just three of the 11 Florida freshmen saw action today — Pirreca, midfielder Lindsey Ronbeck and goalie Haley Hicklen — they provided great first impressions for their teammates.
“They’re really good to have,” Stevens said.
“You couldn’t even tell that they were freshmen.”