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Wednesday, December 07, 2022
<p>Senior Lindsey Ronbeck led the way with six goals as Florida won its first American Athletic Conference Tournament championship on Saturday. </p>

Senior Lindsey Ronbeck led the way with six goals as Florida won its first American Athletic Conference Tournament championship on Saturday. 

The Florida women’s lacrosse team won the regular season conference title and the conference tournament in each of its four seasons as a member of the Big East from 2015-18.

The No. 19 Gators accomplished that feat again on Saturday -- this time in the American Athletic Conference -- by beating Cincinnati 15-9 at the Sheakley Athletics Center in Cincinnati to earn their sixth-straight conference tournament championship.

“When you win the inaugural conference championship, it’s incredible,” coach Amanda O’Leary said in an interview with the American Digital Network after the victory. “All the credit goes to these young women behind me. They’ve worked so hard throughout the season.”

UF (13-6, 5-0 AAC) went down early after Cincinnati midfielder Kylie Nause scored from the free position, but junior midfielder Brianna Harris found the back of the net less than a minute later to tie the game.

Harris played a part in Florida’s second goal as well, providing senior midfielder Sydney Pirreca with an assist to put the Gators up 2-1.

Sophomore attacker Grace Haus scored a man-up goal at the 25:04 mark of the first half after defender Alexandra Fess received a yellow card, causing the Cincinnati player to leave the game temporarily. Sophomore midfielder Shannon Kavanagh gave UF a 4-1 lead 34 seconds later on a free-position shot.

Senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck then extended Florida’s advantage to 5-1 on an unassisted goal.

The AAC Attacker of the Year led the Gators with six goals in the championship game, while Kavanagh recorded four of her own.

Cincinnati responded with three consecutive goals, cutting UF’s lead to 5-4 with 15:02 remaining in the first half. But two goals from Ronbeck and one from Haus restored Florida’s four-goal margin.

The Gators went into the break with an 8-5 advantage after Bearcats midfielder Alyssa Adams scored her first goal of the game to cut the deficit.

Florida took control of the championship bout in the last 30 minutes thanks to its potent offense and stingy defense.

UF scored seven of the first eight goals in the second half, giving it a 15-6 lead with 5:28 remaining in the contest

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Cincinnati went over 20 minutes without finding the back of the net until defender Morgan Dukes fired a shot past senior goalkeeper Haley Hicklen for her first goal of the season.

It was too late for the Bearcats, however, as Florida earned its seventh conference tournament title in program history.

The Gators will now wait to see where they will be heading for the NCAA Tournament, which will be decided in a selection show on Sunday at 8 p.m.

“Wherever we go, it’s going to be another game for us,” O’Leary said. “We’ll prepare, and we’re just glad we’re going.”

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

Senior Lindsey Ronbeck led the way with six goals as Florida won its first American Athletic Conference Tournament championship on Saturday. 

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