The score was tied 2-2 nearly 10 minutes in when attacker Mollie Stevens was issued her second yellow card of the game.
With Stevens out, the Gators needed someone to step in and fill her role, and coach Amanda O’Leary turned to attacker Madisyn Kittell to get the job done.
The Syracuse, New York, native did just that.
After missing out on some opportunities early on, Kittell found the back of the net on back-to-back goals at the beginning of the second half to keep Florida’s 11-0 scoring run alive.
“(Madisyn)’s a competitor. She’s just a fighter,” O’Leary said. “She’s going to give you everything she has whenever she steps on the field. She did what she needed to do today.”
Kittell finished the day with a hat-trick and an assist to tie a game-high in points and help propel the No. 2 Gators (15-2, 9-0 Big East) lacrosse team to a 15-3 win over Georgetown, earning them their third-straight Big East regular-season title.
“I was just so proud of them...they rallied” O’Leary said. “Offensively, we took care of possession. We scored when we needed too.”
After a slow start, Florida’s offense came alive, scoring 11 consecutive times over a 26-minute span to put the game out of reach. The run featured eight different Gators scoring at least one goal.
“At halftime we had a talk with the coaches and we figured out what was working and what wasn’t working,” attacker Shayna Pirreca said. “We made the adjustments.”
While Kittell and midfielder Sydney Pirreca tallied four points on three goals and an assist, they weren’t alone in UF’s scoring. Midfielder Allie Pavinelli notched three goals and Shayna Pirreca finished the day with two goals and an assist. Sammi Burgess, Lindsey Ronbeck, Caroline Benitez and Madi Hall rounded out the day with a goal each.
On top of their offensive outburst, the Gators’ defense also limited Georgetown’s (9-8, 7-2 Big East) chances on offense. Defender Aniya Flanagan led the team with three caused turnovers, and defender Caroline Fitzgerald picked up three ground balls and had an assist.
UF’s defense held the Hoyas to three goals on 16 shots and caused 10 of Georgetown’s 17 turnovers.
Protecting the net for Florida, Haley Hicklen played a great game as well, facing 12 shots on goal and saving nine of them for a .750 save percentage, her second-highest percentage of the season.
“She’s amazing. She’s saved our butts a couple times in the first half,” Shayna Pirreca said. “It’s just so nice to have her because we have so much confidence in her and we know she’s going to get the job done when we need her.”
With the win over Georgetown, Florida won the Big East regular-season title for the third-straight season and will enter the Big East Tournament as the No. 1-seed in the bracket. Florida will face No. 4-seed Temple in the semifinal round on Thursday, a team they defeated 15-5 on April 22.
“I think they’re really confident,” O’Leary said of her team going into the Big East Tournament. “This is a great win for us...I think we’ll certainly be ready to get into that Big East Tournament mode.”
Contact Jake Dreilinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake
UF midfielder Sydney Pirreca runs downfield with the ball during Florida's 15-8 win against Denver on March 25, 2017, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.