Senior attacker Shayna Pirreca described the Florida lacrosse team’s victory over Connecticut on Saturday as a chance for a “fresh start.” If the 21-8 dismantling of the Huskies was an indication of how focused the Gators are heading into their final six games, then the Big East has been warned.
With the return of junior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck — who was named Big East Attacker of the Week on Tuesday — from injury, the team is at full strength in time for its bout with Temple on Wednesday at noon at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
No. 8 Florida (8-3, 3-0 Big East) will attempt to win its 26th consecutive conference game. The Owls (7-4, 2-1 Big East) are 0-7 all time against the Gators, with the most recent loss coming in the 2017 Big East Tournament Semifinal as eventual-champion UF defeated Temple 21-9.
However, if Florida wants to win the eighth matchup, it will need to find a way to overcome a stout Owls defense, which only gives up 11.5 goals per game and has held its opponents to fewer than 10 goals in six of its 11 contests this season.
“(Temple) will present some challenges for us with how well they play on the defensive end of the field,” Gators coach Amanda O’Leary said in a release. “So ball control and ball security will be points of emphasis for us going into the game.”
Goalie Maryn Lowell is the leader of Temple’s defense. She has 103 saves on the season and a .477 save percentage, good for the 31st best mark in the country.
Fortunately for UF, the Owls’ offense isn’t nearly as potent. Temple has the second-worst scoring offense in the Big East, scoring only 10.6 goals per game.
Only one TU player, sophomore midfielder Maddie Gebert, has 20 goals on the season. Florida has five players with 20 or more goals, including Pirreca, whose 35 goals are fifth best in the Big East.
Coming off a disappointing 16-4 loss at Marquette, Temple has an opportunity to make a statement win against the premier program in the Big East.
But the Owls’ offensive woes could severely limit their ability to pull off the upset, especially against a Florida scoring attack that is healthy and coming off its highest goal output of the year against Connecticut.
The Gators will look to continue their strong play as they head into the final stretch of their season.
“Our effort level and intensity at practice has been very high lately, and we will continue to focus on playing complete 60-minute games with energy,” O’Leary said.
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Senior Shayna Pirreca and her sister, Sydney, led UF to victory over Colorado in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday with a combined seven goals.