The Gators’ lacrosse team is experiencing déjà vu heading into its second game of the 2019 campaign.
It beat Colorado in the season opener last year 16-9, just like it did on Saturday. Then it hosted top-ranked Maryland and lost 16-14, snapping a 102-game winning streak when scoring at least 14 goals.
Now, No. 6 Florida faces tied-No. 2 Maryland at home on Thursday in a rematch of 2018’s tightly contested game.
For the result to be different this time around, UF will need to:
Control the Draw
Florida’s first goal against Colorado came less than two minutes into the action thanks to sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh’s draw control to start the game.
She outmuscled the opposing player to gain possession of the ball, which allowed senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck to open the scoring.
Kavanagh, again, stepped up to the draw circle after senior attacker Alix Lopez scored the team’s second goal. Once more, she controlled the draw to give the Gators the ball.
Thirty-five seconds later, the Gators celebrated their third goal.
“We got off to a quick start at both ends of the field and that was in part to our draw performance,” coach Amanda O’Leary said in a release after the game. “(Assistant coach) Taryn VanThof has been working hard with our draw takers and it showed today.”
Both Kavanagh and sophomore defender Sabrina Cristodero led the team in draw controls winning six and four, respectively.
The Terrapins averaged 16.86 draw controls per game last season, which was tied for second in the nation. UF, on the other hand, was tied for 18th in the nation in draw controls, averaging 14.95 per game.
Kavanagh, Cristodero and the rest of the draw controllers will need to gain possession at midfield to ensure another fast start for Florida in its home opener.
Execute in the Free Position
In Saturday’s game against the Buffaloes, the Gators scored seven times off free-position shots.
Kavanagh, who was named Big East Freshman of the Year in 2018, was 3-for-3 on free-position shots. Sophomore attacker Grace Haus followed suit with a free-position mark of 2-for-3.
On the defensive end, UF held CU to just two goals on seven free-position shots.
Last season against Maryland, however, it allowed seven goals on 11 free-position attempts.
Florida must execute on both sides of the free position if it wants to avoid its first loss of the season against the Terps for the second year in a row.
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at email@example.com.
Florida attacker Lindsey Ronbeck scored four goals during UF’s 16-9 road win over Colorado.