Whenever a player has to miss time due to injury, it isn’t uncommon for him or her to take a few games to settle back into a rhythm.
However, that wasn’t the case with Florida attacker Lindsey Ronbeck. The junior suffered a knee injury against Navy on March 13 and missed UF’s next three contests.
Despite her 17-day absence, when she finally returned to the field on Saturday, she looked like she’d never left, scoring six goals and recording four assists in the Gators’ 21-8 victory over Connecticut at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
“It just goes to show what a critical piece (Ronbeck) plays in our offense,” Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said.
Ronbeck became just the second player in UF history to score 10 points in a game.
“I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I had down on that offensive end,” she said.
The Huskies (5-6, 1-2 Big East) were also unable to contain senior attacker Shayna Pirreca, who notched four goals and an assist in the UF victory. Her performance marks the fourth time this season that Pirreca has scored four or more goals.
Apart from the opening minutes, the game was never competitive. The Huskies only lead of the afternoon came in the first 2:08 when the score was 1-0.
Florida (7-3, 3-0 Big East) led 3-2 with 22:07 left in the first half when it proceeded to reel off eight straight goals. The Gators led 15-4 at halftime with a running clock already in effect with 10 minutes remaining in the first period. After giving up 15 goals for an abysmal save percentage of .063, Connecticut goalie Grace Beshlian was pulled for Annie Carroll after the break.
Florida continued its dominance in the second half, with the final margin of victory — 13 — being the largest for the team all year. The Gators’ 21 goals were also the most the team has scored in a game this season.
UF dominated in the field position battle. Although UConn was better than Florida on draw controls, winning 18-13, its 20 turnovers limited its ability to get to UF’s end of the field. The Huskies only attempted nine clears while the Gators attempted 18.
Florida goalie Haley Hicklen only had four saves on the day — her season low. However, UConn only managed nine shots on goal while she was in the game, so Hicklen didn’t get the opportunity to make saves very often. She was pulled for relievers Olivia Cole and Kenzii Kittell in the second half.
Florida was the beneficiary of costly Huskies fouls. Although the Gators fouled more than Connecticut did, they attempted eight free-position shots compared to UConn’s five. UF converted on six of those attempts, while the Huskies only converted on two.
By making quick work of Connecticut, Florida was able to remain undefeated in Big East play. The Gators were the preseason favorites to win the conference and have looked the part so far, especially considering only one of the three Big East games they’ve played has been at home.
“We said that this was going to be our fresh start for the season, going into Big East play,” Pirreca said. “We worked really, really hard all week and I think it showed today.
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Attacker Lindsey Ronbeck returned to the Gators' lineup after missing the last three games.