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Sunday, November 28, 2021
<p>Devon Schneider drives toward the net during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Wednesday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Schneider scored four points against the Dolphins after she was held scoreless against the Tar Heels in the Gators’ 20-8 season-opening loss on Feb. 8.</p>

Devon Schneider drives toward the net during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Wednesday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Schneider scored four points against the Dolphins after she was held scoreless against the Tar Heels in the Gators’ 20-8 season-opening loss on Feb. 8.

Using defenders on offense — Florida may be on to something.

The No. 9 Gators (10-4, 4-0 Big East) continued their run through conference play by defeating Marquette (4-9, 0-3 Big East) 16-5 on Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The win is Florida’s fourth straight, all of which have been by at least nine goals, so the victory itself wasn’t as unusual as some of the game’s occurrences.

For one, the temperature in Milwaukee was in the mid-30s throughout the match. But despite the cold weather, both Florida’s offense and defense remained hot.

The Gators scored the game’s first goal just 48 seconds in, when senior Shannon Gilroy assisted a Devon Schneider goal.

Schneider had three goals on the day and is now shooting at a .904 clip this season with 19 goals.

Gilroy went on to score four goals of her own and now has a nation-leading 52 on the year.

Sophomore Mollie Stevens also added two goals, extending her scoring streak to 18 games.

Those sources of production weren’t very surprising.

Caroline Fitzgerald and Sydney DuPre, however, managed to shake things up a bit.

Before Wednesday, Fitzgerald, a sophomore defender, had played 34 games without even attempting a shot. Against Marquette, she got the opportunity to play midfield and scored twice – her first two career goals.

"We needed to do a better job defensively, so we put Caroline Fitzgerald into the midfield to solidify that defensive end a little more," coach Amanda O’Leary said in a release. "She did a great job filling a position that she wasn’t used to playing."

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Fitzgerald finished the game with two goals on three shots to go along with two ground balls and one draw control.

DuPre, a junior defender, finished Wednesday’s match with three draw controls and three caused turnovers. Prior to this game, DuPre had totaled just three draw controls and five caused turnovers over the course of the entire season.

With those two pleasantly surprising performances for Florida, the Gators’ defensive unit once again played some of its best lacrosse of the year, allowing just five goals and forcing 10 Marquette turnovers.

Junior goalkeeper Mary-Sean Wilcox tied her season-high with nine saves against the Golden Eagles, including five free-position shots. Wilcox has totaled 16 saves over Florida’s last two games and has proven to be a reliable presence in the goal cage.

Follow Alex Maminakis on Twitter @alexmaminakis

Devon Schneider drives toward the net during Florida’s 21-5 win against Jacksonville on Wednesday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Schneider scored four points against the Dolphins after she was held scoreless against the Tar Heels in the Gators’ 20-8 season-opening loss on Feb. 8.

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