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Tuesday, July 05, 2022
<p>UF senior Mollie Stevens fights off a North Carolina player during Florida's 13-10 loss to the Tar Heels on Feb. 11, 2017, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.</p>

UF senior Mollie Stevens fights off a North Carolina player during Florida's 13-10 loss to the Tar Heels on Feb. 11, 2017, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

The Gators were up 8-3 early in the second half.

So when Southern California’s Gabby McMahon scored a goal 2:21 into the half, Florida wasn't worried.

It still had a four goal lead.

But when USC scored three goals in the next three minutes, the Gators were put on edge. The Trojans had just erased a five goal deficit, gaining all the momentum down 8-7.

That was until junior midfielder Allie Pavinelli ended the Gators’ scoring drought.

The Gators answered back with four straight goals to go back ahead by five, which proved to be enough for Florida.

Behind a strong offensive showing, No. 4 UF (1-0) earned its first win of the season, taking down No. 3 USC (2-1) 15-10 Friday night at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

“It was obviously really critical when it came out to be one goal shortly thereafter, so I think it was really important for us,” coach Amanda O’Leary said.

Despite losing the majority of the draw controls (Florida’s 10 to USC’s 17), UF managed to hold onto the ball for the majority of the match and never gave up the lead.

Florida took 29 shots compared to USC’s 24, and only turned over the ball 16 times to the Trojans’ 24 times.

In the first half, USC had trouble finding the goal, only scoring three goals while UF scored seven.

Florida’s defense held USC to just 10 shots on goal in the first half, while Florida’s offense capitalized with seven goals on 11 shots on goal.

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The Gators were fueled by a first-half hat trick by senior midfielder Mollie Stevens. The Centreville, Maryland, native finished the game with five goals, tying her career best.

Stevens was also given the task of going up against Michaela Michael, one of the best draw specialists in the country. And she managed to get a few over Michael.

“I felt really well prepared,” Stevens said. “Once I got a couple under my belt, I could read her. But she is really good at the draw and I could see why she is the best in the nation (at draw controls).”

While Stevens’ five goals were the most on the team, she wasn’t the only player that produced.

Junior attacker Shayna Pirreca added four goals, the only other Gators player to score a hat trick, while sophomore attacker Sydney Pirreca added two goals and two assists and senior attacker Sammi Burgess recorded two goals and three assists.

The Gators have a break from play this weekend before heading to Jacksonville to take on the Jacksonville University Dolphins Monday at 7 p.m.

After playing back-to-back top-five matches, the Dolphins will be a welcomed break for Florida from its difficult schedule.

And with an offensive showing like they had against USC, Florida should have no trouble on Monday.

“So I think in the game we were very smart on offense,” Stevens said. “We took our time, and when we saw something we just took it.

“It really paid off for us during the game.”

Contact Jake Dreilinger at jdreilinger@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.

UF senior Mollie Stevens fights off a North Carolina player during Florida's 13-10 loss to the Tar Heels on Feb. 11, 2017, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

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