Florida’s women’s lacrosse team is not used to losing, especially two games in a row.
The last time it lost two consecutive games was in the 2015 season against lacrosse powerhouses Syracuse and Maryland.
“It’s definitely upsetting,” senior midfielder Madi Hall said. “I think that every time we go out there we kind of take advantage of what we’ve done in the past.”
The No. 11 Gators (1-2) will have their chance to right the ship against No. 17 Navy on Saturday in Annapolis, Maryland.
The Midshipmen (3-1) are currently riding a three-game winning streak after losing their first game of the season against then-No. 16 Virginia.
“They’re a really great team,” Hall said. “We have to come out right at the beginning draw and keep it up the entire game.”
Navy’s offense is captained by attacker Kelly Larkin and midfielder Kayla Harris. Larkin has recorded 12 goals and 11 assists in four games, while Harris has notched 11 goals and 3 assists.
“Kelly Larkin is probably one of the best attackers,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “She’s a lefty and will pose a little bit of a problem for us if we let her have space and time.”
The Midshipmen’s defense has allowed an average of 11.25 goals per game this season. It has also caused 44 turnovers.
Those numbers can be attributed to Navy’s unpredictable defensive strategy, which changes throughout the game. The Midshipmen constantly switch between zone and man-to-man defense, O’Leary said.
UF’s offense has cooled off as of late after scoring 17 goals in the season opener against Colorado. It scored only 12 goals against both Maryland and Loyola.
“We need to put the ball in the back of the net,” O’Leary said. “The opportunities are there. We’re just falling short.”
Most of the opportunities are coming from senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation in shots per game (10.67) and tied for first in shots on goal per game (8). She is also ranked third in the nation in goals per game, averaging five.
Florida cannot rely solely on Ronbeck to score, though.
She was double-teamed consistently against Loyola on Saturday and was held scoreless in the first half before notching a hat trick in the second one.
The rest of the Gators’ offense will need to step up against Navy in order to avoid a third-straight loss.
“It has been a rough start for us,” sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh said, “but I think we’ve just been focusing on the positives and the things that we need to improve on.”
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at email@example.com.
Sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh: It has been a rough start for us, but I think we’ve just been focusing on the positives and the things that we need to improve on.