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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
<p>UF's Nicole Graziano (right) makes a play on the ball during Florida's 16-6 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 27, 2016.&nbsp;</p>

UF's Nicole Graziano (right) makes a play on the ball during Florida's 16-6 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 27, 2016. 

For the second-straight season, Florida finished the Big East Tournament as the final team standing.

Following a 4-2 halftime result, a second half surge by the Gators thwarted any chance for a Temple comeback, as UF (18-1) eventually won the conference tournament final, 16-4, on the heels of four hat tricks.

Freshmen Lindsey Ronbeck and Sydney Pirreca and junior attacker Sammi Burgess scored three goals each, while redshirt senior Nicole Graziano, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, netted four Saturday.

A last-minute effort by Florida to end the opening half allowed the Gators to head into the second half with momentum on their side.

Florida found itself struggling just 45 seconds away from the half-ending whistle.

Up 3-2 against Temple (13-6) in Washington, D.C., UF had not scored a goal in 19 minutes. The Gators attempted just one shot and committed three turnovers in that time — the Owls capitalized off the first turnover.

As Temple held the ball looking for an opportunity to tie up the game, redshirt senior midfielder Nicole Graziano caused TU attacker Avery Longstaff to turn the ball over with 39 seconds remaining.

After the ball was cleared up field, junior attacker Sammi Burgess found Mollie Stevens, in her second game since returning from a lingering hip injury, who struck the back of the net with 15 seconds left.

The Gators scored five unanswered goals to begin the second half, with Pirreca producing two of them.

When Temple finally scored with 18:25 remaining and facing a 9-3 deficit, the game seemed all but over. But Florida was not finished piling on the damage.

UF scored seven more times, including a five-goal run to conclude the tournament.

“We gave them a game plan and they executed,” O’Leary said in a release. “They do all the work and they deserve the credit for the outcome of that second half.”

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In the win, Burgess became the seventh Gator to reach 100 career goals. She's the second player to eclipse the mark this season, as the season goal-leader Graziano did so in UF’s regular-season finale on April 20 against Connecticut.

The 12-goal difference tied the third-greatest margin of victory this season for the Gators, matched by a 17-5 win over Cincinnati on April 20.

Florida has now won-three straight conference titles. Last season, it defeated Connecticut 20-6  in the Big East’s inaugural title game on the Huskies’ home turf.

In 2014, the Gators barely beat Northwestern 9-8 in the last American Lacrosse Conference Tournament final.

UF's Nicole Graziano (right) makes a play on the ball during Florida's 16-6 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 27, 2016. 

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