The No. 2 Florida lacrosse team clinched a berth in the Big East Tournament Saturday with a 14-4 win over Villanova.
Last year, the Gators won the inaugural tournament against Connecticut, which was the only conference team to defeat Florida last season.
The Wildcats held the Gators to just five goals in the first half, Florida’s second-lowest total at the in an opening half this season.
UF (14-1, 5-0 Big East) was held to two goals in the first half of a 14-4 loss to Maryland on March 19, its only loss of the season.
“Villanova had a great game plan,” coach Amanda O’Leary said in a release. ”They came out in the first half and really slowed us down,”
The Florida defense allowed just two goals to Villanova in the half.
The Gators and the Wildcats (3-12, 1-4 Big East) were even in first half draw controls, gathering four apiece. However, UF won just three of 10 ground ball pickup opportunities.
Five separate Gators scored in first 30 minutes, as Sammi Burgess, Sydney Pirreca, Carli Marsh, Lindsey Ronbeck and Caroline Fitzgerald respectively hit the back of the net.
The stout Florida defense carried into the second half, allowing just a pair of goals, but the offense powered past its first-half struggles, scoring nine goals to close the game.
Sophomore midfielder Shayna Pirreca, who dished out a career-high three assists, scored the first two goals to begin the second half, sparking a 5-0 UF run that lasted just under nine minutes.
Ronbeck added two more goals to notch the fourth hat trick of her freshman campaign. She has scored eight goals in UF’s past two games.
Redshirt senior midfielder Nicole Graziano, whose sister, Christine, is a freshman for the Wildcats, scored a goal in the second half to extend her goal-scoring streak to 14 games. She leads UF in goals with 32 this season.
Burgess tacked on another goal, her 27th this season, to bring her point streak to 19 straight games.
Taylor Bresnahan led the team with six draw controls, matching her career-high set in her freshman year and doubling her previous season-high from the Gators’ 10-9 win over Temple on April 2.
UF will play its next game at Cincinnati Wednesday at noon before ending its regular season at home on April 24 against UConn.
Sammi Burgess makes a play on the ball during Florida's 14-4 loss on March 19, 2016 Maryland at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.