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Friday, March 01, 2024

Florida back to winning ways with triumph at Liberty

Huge games from Emma LoPinto and Sarah Reznick get Florida back on track

<p>Redshirt sophomore Sarah Reznick, from Long Beach, New York, forwards the ball to midfield in a home matchup with the Liberty Flames. Reznick was named to the AAC All-Tournament team.</p>

Redshirt sophomore Sarah Reznick, from Long Beach, New York, forwards the ball to midfield in a home matchup with the Liberty Flames. Reznick was named to the AAC All-Tournament team.

After three-straight losses to top-10 opponents, the Florida lacrosse team needed a boost, and it got just that in Lynchburg, Virginia. The No. 12 Gators (3-3) traveled north during spring break and had something to celebrate, blowing out the Liberty Flames (3-3) by eight goals, 14-6. 

Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary reflected on her team’s overall efforts in the post-game media session.

“Really proud of our effort this afternoon. We saw a lot of bright spots on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ball,” O’Leary said. “This was a good win to get us back on track and we look forward to continuing to build on the things we learned today.”

This was a potential trap game for Florida, with unranked Liberty stumbling in the midst of a top-10 gauntlet. The Gators, however, looked recharged and back to form following a slight break in the schedule.

Liberty opened the scoring flood gates with a goal three minutes into the game, but Florida would regain control. UF outscored the hosts, 5-2, in the first quarter and never let the score get close. The Gators doubled up Liberty before the break with an 8-4 lead and then fully pulled away with a 3-0 third quarter. 

The Flames defense fought tooth and nail to keep the game competitive, but the sheer talent of Florida’s offense combined with a limited Liberty attack kept the game out of reach. 

It was a tough, defensive game, with both teams struggling to break through offensively. 

Both squads turned possessions over a combined 47 times while somehow squeezing out 37  shots on goal. Junior midfielder Shelton Sawers and junior defender Becky Browndorf led the way for the Florida defense with seven total turnovers to burn out the Flame attack. 

Even when the Flames penetrated the Gator defense, senior goalie Sarah Reznick was there to snuff out the shot. The preseason All-American had her best game of the season, finishing with 10 saves and saving two-thirds of the shots she faced. It was a slow start to the year for Reznick, but she fully arrived on Wednesday. 

The Gator offense was led by a career day for freshman attacker Emma LoPinto. The Manhasset, New York, native set a new career-high for points in a game, finishing with four goals and five assists. Sophomore midfielder Danielle Pavinelli scored yet another hat trick, bringing her to 21 goals on the season, and provided a pair of assists. Sophomore attacker Maggi Hall found the back of the net three times for her second-career hat trick. 

Wednesday’s win marked O’Leary’s 350th career win, making her the fourth Division I head coach to reach that mark. 

The Gators play their second game of the week Saturday when they close out the two-game road trip in Baltimore, Maryland with a matchup against No. 9 Loyola at 12 p.m.

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Topher Adams

Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.

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