The Florida sun beamed down onto the field at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Gator attacker Brianna Harris rolled into the eight-meter arc, hungry to capitalize on the opportunity before her. The senior juked through Liberty’s defense to stare down goalkeeper Jennifer Soriero.
Harris drew her stick back and ripped the ball past Soriero. It slapped the polyester strings of the net as cheers erupted from the stands at the ‘Diz. The Maryland native earned a hat trick and her 99th career goal in an orange and blue uniform.
Kavanagh, the AAC Preseason Midfielder of the Year, recorded four goals in the matchup. The New York native registered two draw controls and one assist.
The Gators drew first blood and never looked back.
UF midfielder Emily Heller scooped the yellow ball out of mid-air to win a hard-fought draw control. The gritty play set up attacker Grace Haus for her second goal of the game.
Sarah Reznick, the AAC Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, boasted five saves in the first half alone. Florida kept Soriero busy as she notched seven game-changing saves in the first stanza.
As the game wore on, the Flames died out and the Gators refused to show them mercy. Florida led by 11 at the end of the first half, a lead which soon grew to 15.
Attacker Kassidy Bresnahan darted into the 12-meter fan from midfield and scored right out of the field house.
Liberty finally found some offensive rhythm, although far too late to make a difference. Midfielder Carly White ripped the ball past Reznick into the net for the Flames’ first goal. Not long after, their leading scorer Brooke Bryan sent a bounce shot into the goal crease that rolled past UF’s freshman goalkeeper.
The aggressive Liberty defense managed to hold Florida to a five-minute scoring drought in the second half. Heller eventually got the ball moving again with a speedy shot off of a free position.
UF coach Amanda O’Leary slowly pulled her starters off of the field as the team regained confidence.
“I thought that the second group came in off of the bench [and] seamlessly executed what we had asked them to do,” O’Leary said “This was a total team effort today.”
The Flames couldn’t keep up with the streaking Gators, who sealed their 104th win on home turf.
O’Leary said this win positions the team well ahead of the AAC tournament.
“I think we’re geared up and ready to play Cincinnati,” she said. “The opportunity to play them again and to show what we can do is an exciting time for us.”
Florida, the No. 1 seed in the AAC, hosts the conference championship May 6 and 8. The Gators face the No. 4 seed Cincinnati Bearcats May 6 at 4:30 p.m.
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.