The Gators were caught off guard Saturday afternoon after the Pirates secured the first point — a goal that set a competitive pace for the remainder of the matchup.
Senior midfielder Emily Heller fouled and gave a penalty shot to East Carolina senior midfielder Ellie Bromley, who took advantage of the opportunity.
The Gators struggled to secure the lead until they broke a 3-3 tie in the second quarter; they never gave up the lead and secured the victory.
The No. 9 Florida Gators (11-3, 3-1 AAC) beat the East Carolina Pirates (10-5, 3-1 AAC) 10-5 Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.
The Gators had trouble scoring in the first quarter. Senior midfielder Emily Heller received the ball and attempted to score, but her shot was saved by ECU sophomore goalkeeper Brynn Knight.
Knight then cleared the ball to the Gators’ defense. Heller committed a foul, and the Pirates scored the first point off of the penalty shot.
Heller won the draw and tossed the ball to junior midfielder Madison Waters. The midfielder passed the ball to junior attacker Danille Pavinelli, who scored to tie the game at one.
The Gators fought to break the tie for the next 12 minutes.
Eventually, Florida redshirt junior goalkeeper Sarah Reznick blocked the Pirates’ shot and passed the ball to senior midfielder Shelton Sawers.
Sawers ran the ball upfield and handed it to junior attacker Maggi Hall. With 30 seconds on the clock, Hall found the empty space and blew past ECU’s defense to put the Gators in the lead, 2-1.
Freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Davies won the following draw and quickly found sophomore attacker Emma LoPinto to record another point seconds before the buzzer announced the end of the first quarter.
ECU won the draw and scored the first goal of the second quarter. The Pirates scored again shortly after and tied the game at three.
After junior attacker Liz Harrison won the draw, Hall scored and broke the 3-3 tie. Freshman attacker Ava Tighe added to Florida’s lead shortly after to push the score to 5-3. Hall got comfortable behind the goal and assisted the next three goals.
Hall first found redshirt-senior midfielder Emerson Cabrera for the Gators’ sixth goal; she then assisted LoPinto twice in a row to finish the first half up 8-3.
Neither team scored in the third quarter. Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary referred to the quarter-long scoring drought as a “defensive battle.”
“We started to see some open opportunities, but we rushed our shooting,” O’Leary said.
After protecting UF’s lead for an entire period, Harrison won the draw, and Pavinelli quickly scored to put Florida ahead by six at the top of the fourth quarter.
ECU sophomore midfielder Emily Stratton fouled and gave a penalty shot to LoPinto. Rather than heading straight to the goal, LoPinto looked up and passed the ball across the crease to Waters. She initially missed but recovered immediately and flicked the ball into the net.
The Pirates answered with two consecutive goals, but their efforts couldn’t regain the lead. The Gators finished with a 10-5 victory.
Florida will next play the Vanderbilt Commodores at Donald R. Dizney Stadium at noon Saturday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.
Contact Kate Wiggins @firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @katewigginz.
Kate Wiggins is a second-year advertising major and women's lacrosse reporter for The Alligator. Catch her pumping iron at Southwest Rec, double-scooting her friends to class, or dancing around at the nearest EDM concert.