The Gators were without junior midfielders Mollie Stevens and Carli Marsh.
But stepping up in their place was Florida’s No. 2-ranked freshman class.
In Florida’s 10-9 win over Temple on Saturday, the group was responsible for four goals, including the game winner with 4:16 left from freshman Lindsey Ronbeck.
Midfielder Caroline Benitez made her first career start, platooning with senior attacker Devon Schneider early in an attempt to try to catch Temple off-guard.
Freshman Haley Hicklen, who relieved senior Mary-Sean Wilcox in goal in all but two games this season, was able to help thwart Temple’s offense during a second half that saw just two goals from both sides.
And while midfielder Madi Hall made just one statistical contribution on Saturday — her first ground ball pick up of the season — it was perhaps the game’s most crucial play.
With the Gators up 10-9, the Owls took possession off a turnover by sophomore attacker Shayna Pirreca with 2:41 left in the game. But with 55 seconds remaining, senior defender Sydney DuPre caused Rachel Schwaab to turn the ball over, and Hall was there to pick up the ground ball, ending Temple’s final possession of the match.
"It’s their hard work day-in and day-out," coach Amanda O’Leary said of the development of the freshmen. "... To see some playing time come to fruition, it was good to see."
While the freshman class impressed against Temple, two newcomers — Ronbeck and Sydney Pirreca — in particular have impressed all season long.
The duo, which was responsible for all four of the freshman class’ goals on Saturday, have been the stars of the group. And of the two, Ronbeck has statistically been the most productive, contributing 22 combined goals and assists.
For a player just one year removed from high school, she has already played lacrosse at some of the highest levels of competition. She was a member of the 2015 U.S. Women’s National Under-19 Team, helped Team USA win a silver medal at the World Championships and led her high school to a state championship in 2014.
The experience she gained before arriving at UF has given her a better understanding of the game.
"Lindsey’s lacrosse IQ is off the charts," O’Leary said.
O’leary added that there was a gameplan that Ronbeck had been going over all week prior to UF’s win over Temple.
"She just executed what we had worked on all week, which was that drive from goal line extended," O’Leary said.
"So, it was good for her, I think, to execute that, having worked so hard all week on that specific move."
Shayna Pirreca passes the ball during Florida's 12-11 win over Michigan on Feb. 13, 2016, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.