A hush fell over the crowd at Howarth Field as attacker Grace Haus eagerly awaited to shoot.
The Baltimore, Maryland, native ricocheted the ball into the Owls’ goal from the eight-meter arc. The yellow ball grazed the polyester net before it hit the ground. Her teammates threw their sticks in the air as the senior became the 13th Gator in program history to record 100 career goals.
And 100 soon turned into 102 as Haus earned a hat trick in the first half.
No. 11 Florida laced up against No. 20 Temple Friday hungry for a conference win. The Gators chomped first and proved they’re the best in the AAC with a 15-9 win.
But attacker Brianna Harris’ goal was waived off after the post-goal stick check. Midfielder Ashley Gonzalez capitalized less than six minutes into the first half.
Temple midfielder Bridget Whitaker rifled one top shelf and earned a hat trick early. The Springfield, Pennsylvania, native stood her ground on home turf.
Sarah Reznick, the AAC Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, preserved a slim Florida advantage with eight game-changing saves in the first half.
Then the Owls sliced the Gators lead to three. The heat was turned up in Philadelphia.
Temple sprinted out of the locker room a man-up and anxious to capitalize in the second half. However, Harris scored immediately as the teams returned to even strength and doubled UF’s prominent lead.
Whitaker could not be denied as she scored her fifth goal of the day. This was a career-high for the Owls senior.
Shannon Kavanagh, the AAC Preseason Midfielder of the Year and midfielder Belle Mastropietro lead their respective squads in goals. Kavanagh’s 33-game goal streak lived another day as she earned a hat trick in the second half. The captain boasted five assertive goals.
Though the Owls played aggressively the entire hour, back-to-back penalties as the clock ticked down allowed the Gators to find their way back into the win column.
Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary, a Temple alumna, said she’s very proud of how the team played today.
“Everyone stepped up their game today and we came out with a good win over a very good Temple team,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary praised her team's offense and defense. The Gators posted 20 shots on goal and caused 16 turnovers.
“Sarah played well in cage, making some timely saves,” she said. “Shannon, Bri and Grace paced the offense and their shooting was spot on today.”
Florida needs to carry its momentum into its next game, she said.
The teams face off again Sunday. Opening draw is set for noon and the game will stream on ESPN+.
Contact Karina Wilson at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @kk_rinaa
Karina Wilson is a second-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications with a specialization in sports and media. She aims to produce engaging, accurate and current content for all types of sports fans. Currently, Karina is The Alligator's lacrosse beat writer.