The start of the 2019 season has not been kind to Florida’s women’s lacrosse team.
It got off to its worst start in program history, losing six games to ranked opponents in its first 11 contests.
But the No. 18 Gators have a chance to turn their season around when they travel to Philadelphia to square off against Temple on Saturday at Howarth Field. This will be their first game in the American Athletic Conference after spending four years in the Big East.
UF (5-6) was favored to win the conference at the beginning of the season in the AAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, receiving five of the six first-place votes.
It holds a 25-3 all-time record against teams in the AAC: Cincinnati, UConn, Vanderbilt, East Carolina and the Owls.
Florida’s prolonged dominance over the teams in its conference will be tested in the final month of the season, as it plays five out of the last six games against conference foes.
“We’re lucky in that a lot of those teams we’ve seen in the past because they came over with us from the Big East,” Coach Amanda O’Leary said after Tuesday’s 22-11 victory over Brown.
Temple (3-7, 0-0 AAC) has lost three consecutive contests after winning two straight against La Salle 13-10 and UMBC 16-12.
Attacker Maddie Gebert and midfielder/attacker Olivia Thompson lead the Owls on offense, with 18 and 15 goals, respectively.
However, Gebert has scored only once in her last three games.
The Gators, who rank 62nd in the nation in scoring defense (12.18 goals per game), must find a way to stop Temple’s leading goalscorer from finding the back of the net.
They have tightened up on the defensive side of the ball as of late, allowing more than 11 goals only once in the last four contests.
Offensively, UF is led by senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck and sophomore Shannon Kavanagh, who both played well on Tuesday against the Bears, scoring six and five goals, respectively.
Ronbeck currently sits at 198 career goals and is set to become just the third Gator to reach the 200-goal mark.
Junior midfielder Brianna Harris had a historic night against Brown despite coming off the bench.
She posted two goals, a team-record five assists and a career-best 10 draw controls.
Her seven-point performance came after recording just three in the last four games.
O’Leary acknowledged the importance of conference play, but said that Saturday’s game against the Owls is “business as usual.”
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at email@example.com.
Senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck scored six goals against Brown on Tuesday.