Attacker Maggi Hall sliced and diced her way through the East Carolina’s defense to give the Florida Gators lacrosse team an early 3-0 lead. The score was aided by an impressive pass from freshman attacker Emma LoPinto. With the assist, LoPinto engraved her name into the program’s record books.
On Thursday, The Manhasset, New York, native broke the single-season point record with 80 points. A mark that was once held by former Gator Ashley Burns, as the orange and blue cruised to their 14th win of the year.
The No.8 Florida Gators (14-4, 6-0 AAC) dominated the East Carolina Pirates (9-9, 2-4 AAC) 18-7, to improve their winning streak to 12 games.
In Greenville, North Carolina, for the second time in less than a week, the two programs battled it out between the white lines. This time, Florida once again sent East Carolina packing, ending its season for good. The win punched the Gators ticket to the AAC Tournament final on Saturday.
It became clear early on that the Pirates were just no match for the red-hot Gators as they dug themselves into a 14-2 hole in the first half. Florida’s offense clicked on all cylinders as it controlled possession from the opening draw.
UF achieved a quick 6-0 lead in the first quarter after AAC Attacker of the Year Danielle Pavinelli found the back of the net. ECU finally managed to get on the scoreboard after freshman Leah Bestany squeezed one past Florida goalkeeper Sarah Reznick.
The orange and blue scored two more goals to end the first quarter including one with seconds remaining on the clock. Off the fast break, redshirt junior midfielder Paisley Eagan raced down the field to find Hall to complete the hat trick.
The sophomore finished the afternoon scoring four goals in the first half. She reflected on her big scoring performance.
“Honestly, it was just the fact that we were moving the ball fast and most of mine were fastbreak goals,” Hall said. “I was just open at the right time, we were just moving the ball really well.”
In the second quarter, UF’s scoring onslaught continued, mainly coming from Lopinto. Similar to Hall, the AAC Freshman of the year scored 4 goals, all coming in the second including a strike between the pipes to get past Pirates goalkeeper Brynn Knight.
At the half, Florida had scored an impressive 14 goals on 24 shots.
“...really proud of them,” Gators head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “This is the most unselfish team we’ve ever had and it's showing today.”
The accolades continue to come in for the orange and blue squad. En route to their third consecutive conference final, Thursday's win marked coach O’Leary’s 200th win at Florida.
In the second half, the Pirates outscored the Gators 5-4, but the damage was already done. All in all, Florida finished with 10 players tallying on the scoreboard.
The Gators resume action this weekend as they await the winner of the second semifinal matchup between Temple and Vanderbilt. A win on Saturday will bring Florida its ninth conference tournament championship including three-straight in the AAC.
Contact Curtis Michaud at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CurtisMichaud1.
Curtis Michaud is a fourth-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications. He specializes in sports and media and would like to continue to provide authentic, thorough, and engaging sport content for all readers. He is an enterprise reporter and lacrosse and track and field writer for The Alligator.