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Wednesday, December 07, 2022
<p dir="ltr"><span>Florida midfielder Sydney Pirreca scored four goals in UF’s 18-9 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Florida midfielder Sydney Pirreca scored four goals in UF’s 18-9 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

 

The Florida women’s lacrosse team has heard the same phrase all season long from coach Amanda O’Leary.

“Come out of the blocks fast.”

It’s an expression commonly used in track and field where sprinters put their feet against starting blocks to begin a race quickly.

O’Leary used the saying to emphasize the importance of starting a game fast-paced.

The No. 19 Gators did that on Saturday, scoring five unanswered goals at the beginning of their 18-9 victory over Vanderbilt at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

“It’s something that we’ve asked them to do,” O’Leary said, “and I thought (on Saturday) they executed the game plan perfectly.”

After gaining possession on the game’s initial draw, UF (7-6, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) ran an isolation play for senior midfielder Sydney Pirreca.

Pirreca escaped her defender and fired a shot into the top corner, giving Florida a 1-0 lead 32 seconds into the contest.

Less than a minute later, the Gators struck again.

Junior midfielder Brianna Harris converted on a free-position attempt to double the lead.

Pirreca scored the next three goals, with two in the run of play and one from the free position.

By the 22:24 mark of the first half, UF had a five-goal advantage over the Commodores (9-3, 1-1 AAC).

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“Contributing in the best way I can, early and often, was kind of what we were going for,” Pirreca said.

The AAC Preseason Midfielder of the Year led Florida with four goals, while Harris, senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck, sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh and sophomore attacker Grace Haus all recorded hat tricks.

Ronbeck has recorded three goals or more in 10 out of 13 games this year, including a season-high eight in a 17-12 loss against Maryland on Feb. 14.

With her last goal against Vandy, Ronbeck became the second-leading goalscorer in program history (204).

Senior goalkeeper Haley Hicklen had eight saves and a .500 save percentage against Vanderbilt.

UF has won its last four games, and Hicklen has conceded no more than 10 goals in each of those victories.

Pirreca noted that Hicklen’s presence in net makes the team feel comfortable regardless of the opponent.

“I never feel worried or anything like that when I know she’s behind me in the cage,” Pirreca said. “We can always rely on her when the going gets tough.”

Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bmatamoros and contact him at bmatamoros@alligator.org.

Florida midfielder Sydney Pirreca scored four goals in UF’s 18-9 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

 

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