The Gators have every reason to be happy. The team remains undefeated in conference play, and its only three losses of the season came against ranked opponents.
But junior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck hasn’t been happy.
“We haven’t really been doing our best the last couple games,” she said.
The overall play of UF took a dip recently in the absence of two of its leaders, Ronbeck and senior defender Aniya Flanagan.
However, Ronbeck’s return against Connecticut on Saturday proved to be beneficial to the Gators’ struggling attack. No. 8 Florida (8-3, 3-0 Big East) dominated the Huskies 21-8, and Ronbeck scored six goals and four assists in the win, making her only the second player in school history to score 10 points in a single game.
Ronbeck suffered a knee injury in UF’s 19-16 win over Navy on March 13, and Flanagan was sidelined with an undisclosed injury prior to that game. Flanagan returned after two contests, but Ronbeck missed the Gators’ following three.
Florida’s offensive production took a significant hit during the games in which Ronbeck didn’t play. When she has seen the field this year, UF averages 16.8 goals per game. Without her, the team only averages 12.7 goals.
“Having (Ronbeck) there I think gives us a certain advantage,” coach Amanda O’Leary said.
The team is at full health for the first time since its loss at Syracuse on March 7, and starting with their home matchup against Temple on Wednesday, the Gators will finish their regular season with a slew of winnable games. Villanova, Cincinnati and Butler, three of Florida’s final six opponents, have a combined 0-9 conference record.
Florida, the preseason Big East favorite, is in a good position to reclaim the conference title for a fourth consecutive year as well as make a run beyond the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.
Ronbeck’s return to Florida’s lineup has not only improved the team’s play on the field, it has also changed the team’s mindset moving forward.
Senior attacker Shayna Pirreca said that the team viewed the UConn game as a chance for a fresh start, and it certainly got the result it desired as the explosive and now fully recovered UF attack notched a season-high 21 goals.
“The biggest change right now is the mentality,” Pirreca said. “We’re just trying to stay hungry and motivated.”
Follow Tyler Nettuno on Twitter @TylerNettuno and contact him at email@example.com.
Junior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck returned from an injury in Florida's 21-8 win over UConn.