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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Seven goals by Stevens drives Gators past Stony Brook

<p>Florida attacker Mollie Stevens (right) chases the ball in UF's loss to North Carolina on Feb. 11. </p>

Florida attacker Mollie Stevens (right) chases the ball in UF's loss to North Carolina on Feb. 11. 

Senior attacker Sammi Burgess attempted a pass from behind the goal with 21 seconds left in the first half.

Along the way, the ball hit a Stony Brook defender's stick and fell right in front of the net, and right in front of senior attacker Mollie Stevens.

Stevens scooped the ball and immediately shot it toward Seawolves goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero. It blew just past the goalie’s right side, giving the Gators a 14-5 lead and Stevens her fifth goal of the game.

Behind a memorable performance from Stevens, who scored a career-high seven goals, No. 3 Florida defeated No. 7 Stony Brook 22-14 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Saturday.

Stevens’ seven goals place her in a tie for second for most goals by a Florida player in a game.

“I think it’s more than just the goals that she score,” coach Amanda O’Leary said of Stevens. “What she brings to the team with her energy, with her lacrosse IQ. And she can score goals, but she is also a tremendous distributor of the ball. She can assist.”

She didn’t just contribute by scoring. She also corralled 10 draw controls and kept Florida in possession after most goals.

While Stevens’ performance helped propel the team to a convincing win, she got help from some of her teammates as well.

All five of Florida’s scorers finished the game with hat tricks.

Sophomore midfielder Sydney Pirreca and junior attacker Shayna Pirreca each notched four goals and a combined three assists, while sophomore attacker Lindsey Ronbeck added four goals and one assist. Sammi Burgess had a six-point performance, scoring three goals and three assists.

But aside from the offense, what led to the Gators’ big win over Stony Brook was their defensive effort, especially in the first half.

The Gators led the Seawolves 15-5 in the first half, complete with a 9-0 run to close the period. The defense held Stony Brook to 10 shots compared to Florida’s 22.

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The Seawolves, however, wouldn’t go away in the second half.

Stony Brook outscored the Gators 9-7, and started the second half with two back-to-back goals.

Junior attacker Kylie Ohlmiller led the Seawolves with four goals and three assists, while Ally Kennedy and Taryn Ohlmiller scored three of their own.

But whenever Stony Brook scored, Florida answered with some of its own. The Gators extended their lead to 10 goals three times.

“I think as a whole for offense, we all meshed really well together today,” Stevens said. “We’ve been seeing a lot of zones, and compared to previous years we hadn’t really ran into that many zones and we never really practiced it as much. But we work on it every single day, and I think that really benefitted us today.”

The Gators play No. 5 Syracuse at home on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Syracuse recently came off a seven-game winning streak by falling to No. 1 Maryland 17-7.

“They’re a tremendous team, they’re a well coach team, they are super athletic,” O’Leary said. “It’ll be a challenge for us, but that’s kind of what we talked about in the locker room. That’s why these kids come to the University of Florida, to play teams like that day in and day out.”

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

Florida attacker Mollie Stevens (right) chases the ball in UF's loss to North Carolina on Feb. 11. 

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