Every week, Florida lacrosse coach Amanda O’Leary speaks about the importance of playing hard all 60 minutes. In Big East play, the Gators have done just that. On Saturday, they earned their fourth consecutive win by double digits, blowing out Marquette 18-6 at home.
"We talk about it all the time about getting out of the locker room fast and I think we did that,” O’Leary said in a release.
Florida (11-3, 6-0 Big East) moved into sole possession of first place in the conference standings with its victory over Eagles (9-5, 5-1 Big East), who were tied with UF heading into the afternoon.
The Gators started scoring early and often, with freshman midfielder Shannon Kavanagh notching the opening goal 1:46 into the game. Marquette quickly responded with a goal of its own before Florida went on a 10-0 run taking up 16:21 of the first half.
UF led 14-2 at halftime and finished off the eagles in the second half, increasing its winning streak against Big East opponents to 28.
Marquette’s 15th-ranked offense was stifled partly due to the loss of one of its key contributors. Junior Grace Gabriel — whose 51 goals ranks sixth nationally — recorded two yellow cards in the first half and was ejected with 7:02 left before the break.
O’Leary said that with Gabriel’s absence, Florida was able to take away Marquette’s momentum.
“I think we built upon that,” she said.
The Gators were able to use free-position attempts to their advantage. As a team, they converted on 5-of-7 tries, while the Eagles were only 1-for-5.
Kavanagh set a new career high for points in a game (seven), scoring four goals and three assists. Junior midfielder Sydney Pirreca also scored four goals.
Freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Dabkowski scored the first goal of her career in the second half, and fellow bench players Eddy Shoop, Allie Pavinelli and Alix Lopez each found the back of the net as well. O’Leary liked what she saw from her reserves.
“I was really impressed,” she said. “They worked hard and did a great job out there.”
Now, the team will travel 3,700 total miles to take on conference opponents Cincinnati and Denver on April 18 and 21, respectively, before returning home on April 28 to finish the regular season against Butler.
With the final stretch of the season upon it, O’Leary said that Florida is focused on building momentum from its recent successes.
“Each game, we need to go in with that level of confidence coming out of the locker room and playing a 60-minute game,” she said. “I thought we did that today.”
Follow Tyler Nettuno on Twitter @TylerNettuno and contact him at [email protected].