Before the first draw at Donald R. Dizney Stadium, the national anthem blared from the stadium speakers and the dark skies above the field erupted, sending the few fans in attendance scrambling for cover.
The lacrosse matchup started as scheduled, ignoring torrential weather, but was whistled dead after the game’s second goal.
The No. 11 Florida Gators (5-4) cruised to a 19-5 victory over the Stetson Hatters (3-6) in a rainy mid-afternoon matchup. It was Florida’s third-straight win after a 2-4 start to the season and the fourth all-time win against the Hatters.
Despite the mud and heavy rain, it was a comfortable night for the Florida lacrosse team
“In Florida, we learn to play in the rain, we learn to play in weather delays,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “It's no different than the adversity we deal with all the time.”
From the opening whistle, Florida controlled the game.
The Gators scored twice in the opening minute, immediately appearing to be the superior squad. Only forces of nature could stop the Gators in the early going, and they did.
A 30-minute delay ensued as the rains retreated, and the teams headed out of the locker room. The delay did little to slow down Florida’s offensive attack, as the Gators rolled to a 6-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, outshooting the Hatters 10-2 in the period.
“I was proud of how our team reacted and came out,” O’Leary said. “I think we came out of the locker room off a really good start and then just continued.”
Florida continued its dominance for all four quarters, never allowing the Hatters to establish an offensive rhythm while continuing its relentless attack. The Gators outshot the visitors 33-14 for the game, while the Hatters turned the ball over 17 times.
With the result all but decided by halftime, several Florida reserves saw significant minutes, including backup goalie Julia Hammerschlag, who finished with four saves nine shots faced.
“We see it every day at practice from [the reserves],” O’Leary said. “I'm not surprised that they were able to come on the field and, and do what they do every day at practice.”
Florida’s offense flowed through freshman attacker Emma LoPinto, who scored four goals and tallied three assists. Primarily operating behind the goal, LoPinto created mismatches and routinely generated shots for herself and her teammates.
“(LoPinto) can score goals, but she can also throw a lot of assists out there, which makes her a dual threat,” O’Leary said. “She has a lot of natural ability and that's what makes her a really special lacrosse player.”
The rest of Florida’s offense produced as well, with two goals and two assists from sophomore attacker Danielle Pavinelli and a pair of goals from fellow sophomore Maggi Hall.
The Gators embark on a two-game road trip, making a first stop in the desert to face the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday, before a trip to Macon, Georgia, to square off against the Mercer Bears Wednesday.
Contact Topher Adams at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @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.