Vanderbilt came into Donald R. Dizney Stadium with the best overall record in the American Athletic Conference at 9-2.
It led the AAC in scoring offense with 15.18 goals per game and scoring defense with 8.92 goals allowed per game.
But the 19th-ranked Florida women’s lacrosse team showed why it was picked to win the conference in the AAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll at the beginning of the season, defeating the Commodores 18-9 on Saturday afternoon.
The Gators (7-6, 2-0 AAC) never trailed after a 5-0 run to start the game.
Senior midfielder Sydney Pirreca opened the scoring just 32 seconds into the action, looping around her defender and blasting a shot past goalkeeper Lily Argyle.
“The first play of the game was an iso for Syd (Pirreca), and she executed it really well,” coach Amanda O’Leary said. “That was great to see, and I think that just built a lot of momentum.”
A free-position goal from junior midfielder Brianna Harris and another goal from Pirreca gave UF a 3-0 lead, forcing Vandy coach Beth Hewitt to call a timeout.
Vanderbilt believed it scored its first goal of the game shortly after the timeout, but the referee ruled that attacker Gabrielle Fornia had stepped inside the crease, a violation which negated her goal.
Attacker Cassidy Orban recorded the Commodores’ first goal at the 19:50 mark of the first half after senior goalkeeper Haley Hicklen turned the ball over near her cage.
Less than two minutes later, Vandy midfielder Julie Blaze fired a shot that left Hicklen rooted to the ground and cut the deficit to 5-2.
Florida responded with another 5-0 run highlighted by a goal and two assists from senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck.
Vanderbilt found the back of the net nearly two minutes later, but three consecutive goals from sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh (1) and sophomore attacker Grace Haus (2) gave the Gators a 13-3 lead heading into the break.
NCAA rules call for a running clock when a team has a 10-goal lead, so most of the second half was played in that manner.
The Commodores could not mount a comeback in the last 30 minutes of the game, and UF earned its fourth-straight win.
Pirreca, who led Florida with four goals on the day, said that Florida is streaking at the right time after a rough start to the 2019 campaign.
“This definitely felt like a team win,” she said. “Slowly but surely, we’re finding our way again.”
Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros_ and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior midfielder Sydney Pirreca led the Gators with four goals in Saturday's 18-9 win over Vanderbilt.