East Carolina goalkeeper Ashely Vernon strode across the green, freshly painted field at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
The sophomore gave her teammates time to set up a game-changing play in the Gators zone. Midfielder Nicole LeGar ripped an assertive shot past an astounded Sarah Reznick to tie the game early.
But No. 10 Florida stunned its AAC rivals with a 20-9 win Thursday.
With her mother’s shouts in the stands, midfielder Shannon Kavanagh ricocheted the ball into the polyester net off of a free position shot. The senior secured a hat trick in the first half.
Then, four minutes later, attacker Brianna Harris found the back of the net and earned a hat trick. The senior dropped her stick and embraced Kavanagh.
UF held a seven-goal lead at the end of 30 minutes. And seven soon turned into 11.
The red hot Gators offense scored four goals in five minutes out of the gate in the second half. But ECU didn’t back down as attacker Ally Stanton sent a rocket past Reznick, the AAC Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year.
Defender Kaitlyn Dabkowski flaunted her all-around abilities as she left her self-proclaimed defensive end to score on Vernon’s goal. Not long after, the senior earned a yellow card as she knocked attacker Megan Pallozzi, the Pirates’ leading scorer, to the ground.
And with the offensive heat Thursday, both teams totaled 10 yellow cards.
Attacker Maggi Hall earned a yellow card for her aggressiveness toward LeGar. The Pirate senior scored on the man-up opportunity catching the Florida defense by surprise.
Midfielder Camryn Pennypacker drew a yellow card because she shoved Harris. Harris drove to the net and was pushed into the draw circle. The referees initially called off the goal but gave it back to Florida due to the push. Harris threw her hands up in the air in celebration.
The hat tricks continued rolling for the Gators. Freshman attacker Danielle Pavinelli tip-toed around the front of the East Carolina goal crease to earn one of her own.
As the score went up, the orange and blue starters cleared out.
Attacker Kaala Puglisi broke a Pirate defender’s ankles and sent the ball into the back of the net. “Ooh’s” and “aah’s” rang from the stands as the sophomore scored the Gators’ 20th goal.
A final three-goal push from East Carolina wasn’t enough as Florida secured another conference win.
Gators coach Amanda O’Leary said the team executed well from the draw control. She praised the orange and blue for competing at their highest ability.
“Our defense picked it up as well and played a more shut-down defense throughout the second half,” she said. “Offensively, we took better advantage of our opportunities and finished plays.”
The Gators boast a 5-0 conference record and are predicted to win the championship.
Contact Karina Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.