Towson didn’t score many goals on Wednesday night. It didn’t need to.
It completely shut down the Gators’ scoring attack. Without second-leading scorer Lindsey Ronbeck, Florida struggled all night to put the ball in the back of the net as it fell to Towson 14-11 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
“They played better than us tonight,” Gators coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Across the board.”
Florida opened the game with three straight goals, but a fourth was called off due to a crease violation.
The momentum quickly shifted. The Tigers went on a 10-1 run, jumping out to an 8-4 lead at the half and quickly scoring two more goals early in the second half. During that Towson run, the Gators failed to score a goal for nearly 20 minutes of game time.
With 20:27 remaining in the game, freshman attacker Grace Haus finally broke UF’s scoring drought. But the damage had largely been done.
Towson’s stout defense continued throughout the second half, and although the Gators managed to convert on more shots near the end of the game, it was too little, too late.
Florida gave up several costly turnovers that hindered its offensive effort. As a team, UF gave the ball away 21 times.
“That can’t happen,” O’Leary said.
Sophomore Tigers goalie Kylie Keating had 11 saves, good for a save percentage of .500, and the defense around her was excellent, only allowing the Gators to get off 22 shots on goal in the entire game. Towson also only had 22 shots on goal, but they were able to better capitalize on those shots.
Freshman attacker Kaitlyn Thornton shined for the Tigers, scoring a career-high four goals. Redshirt senior attacker Gabby Cha also contributed for Towson, notching two goals and an assist off the bench.
Junior UF goalie Haley Hicklen made eight saves, but her save percentage of .364 was her third lowest this season.
Although the Florida offense was abysmal for most of the evening, there were several bright spots. Freshman defender Sabrina Cristodero won seven draw controls, and senior attacker Shayna Pirreca scored three goals in the loss. Haus, as well as sophomore attacker Madisyn Kittell, scored two goals.
Sophomore defender Cara Trombetta caused four turnovers in the loss.
Although Ronbeck’s absence has been noticeable in the last two games, Florida missed its dynamic scorer the most against the Tigers, whose defense is tied for 12th-best nationally. A pair of late goals from Kittell and freshman midfielder Shannon Kavanagh helped the Gators avoid being held to single-digit goals for the first time this season.
While it wasn’t the result that the Gators hoped for, the team doesn’t have long to dwell on it, as it will resume Big East play at Georgetown on Saturday.
“We have a lot of work to do,” O’Leary said.
Follow Tyler Nettuno on Twitter @TylerNettuno and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attacker Lindsey Ronbeck missed her second consecutive game with an injury Wednesday against Towson.