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Tuesday, December 07, 2021
<p>Mollie Stevens (17) runs down the field during UF lacrosse's season-opening loss to UNC on Feb. 7, 2015 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.&nbsp;</p>

Mollie Stevens (17) runs down the field during UF lacrosse's season-opening loss to UNC on Feb. 7, 2015 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. 

Florida is the regular season Big East champion.

Following its rout of Cincinnati on Wednesday and UConn’s loss to Georgetown later in the day, the UF lacrosse team claimed the title in its first year as a member of the conference.

No. 8 Florida (12-4, 6-0 Big East) closed out its regular season home schedule on Wednesday afternoon with a 20-1 defeat of Cincinnati (2-13, 0-5 Big East).

It was the Gators’ sixth straight win and the Bearcats’ eighth straight loss. Florida out-shot Cincinnati 28-2 in the first half alone and 38-6 for the game.

Sophomore Mollie Stevens got the scoring barrage started just 1:01 into the match. With that score, Stevens tied the program record for consecutive games with a goal – 20.

"Yeah, and she’s only a sophomore. I mean, goodness gracious," coach Amanda O’Leary said of Stevens. "She comes out every day, works extremely hard, and I think all that hard work certainly pays off when you see streaks of goals scored. It makes sense."

After junior Darcy Messina made it 10-0 Florida with 16:22 left in the first half, O’Leary emptied her bench and replaced all of her starting players except goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox.

Only six of the Gators’ 20 goals ended up being scored by starters.

Given the opportunity, Florida’s second unit stepped up and verified the depth that the Gators possess. A program record 16 players scored a goal for Florida, and four of them had their first goal of the season: senior Mikki Offit, junior Angela Flister, sophomore Alex Puller and freshman Katharine Hamer.

"It’s nice to be able to show our depth and get everybody a shot on the field," sophomore Sammi Burgess said, "because there are a lot of games that certain people don’t get in, and it stinks because they’re working just as hard and they’re putting in the work every single day at practice.

"So for them to be able to get in there and get a couple goals, and really show what they have also is really important."

Burgess was one of four players to score two goals on Wednesday — both before being pulled after the Gators had built a comfortable lead.

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Despite the dominant win, there was a downside to Florida's victory.

Redshirt junior Nicole Graziano and freshman Allie Pavinelli were both taken out of the game after each appeared to suffer hard shots to the head. Graziano’s injury occurred in the first half and she never returned from the locker room after halftime. Pavinelli was injured late in the game and was given a large bag of ice on the sidelines.

There was no update on the exact injury or condition of either player after the game.

Florida’s regular season finale is Saturday against UConn in Storrs, Connecticut.

 Follow Alex Maminakis on Twitter @alexmaminakis

Mollie Stevens (17) runs down the field during UF lacrosse's season-opening loss to UNC on Feb. 7, 2015 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. 

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