Florida Gators lacrosse knocks off Elon on the road

Special report on the Florida Gators lacrosse team:

ELON, N.C. -The 16th-ranked Florida Gators were victorious over Elon on Thursday evening, defeating the Phoenix, 15-5 at Rudd Field.

The Gators caused a total of 15 turnovers, including three from Kaitlyn Dabkowski, really controlling the game from the start. The 15 caused turnovers was the fourth-best total in program history.

The squad also held the 17-5 draw control advantage over the Phoenix – led by seven from Sabrina Cristodero.

Sydney Pirreca led the Gators’ offensive effort, registering three goals on the night. Lindsey Ronbeck, Brianna Harris and Grace Haus also pitched in two goals apiece to help secure the victory for Florida.

The Gators held the Phoenix to a .400 shooting clip (5-of-20).

Haley Hicklen posted seven saves on the night, notching a (.636) saves percentage.

How it Happened
For the third game in a row, PIrreca got the Gators on the board first. On a fast break opportunity, she got ahead of the defense and buried the ball in the back of the net to put Florida up just over eight minutes into the game. Elon then got one back on a free-position attempt, tying the game 1-1 with 21 minutes remaining in the first half.

Alix Lopez found Hannah Mardiney behind the net and Mardiney created space, allowing her to put the ball in the top left corner of the net to put Florida up 2-1. Lindsey Ronbeck scored her first goal of the game on pump fake, putting the ball past Elon’s goalkeeper, Difatta.

Ronbeck and Brianna Harris then went back-to-back on free-position attempts, putting the Gators up 5-1 with just over five minutes remaining in the half.

Elon followed with a free-position of its own to cut the deficit to three.

Grace Haus went back-to-back at the end of the first half, scoring two goals within 21 seconds to give the Gators the 7-2 advantage.

The effort on the defensive side of the field was the difference-maker in the game. The Gators recorded eight caused turnovers in the first half of the game, led by two from Sabrina Cristodero.

Pirreca got the Gators off to a hot start in the second half, scoring two goals in just over two minutes to give Florida the 9-2 lead. Elon was able to get one back, but Shannon Kavanagh posted her first goal of the game to give the Gators the 10-3 lead.

Eddy Shoop added her name to the scoring column, slicing through the defense to score her first goal of the season. That goal put the Gators up 11-3 with 21:13 left in the game. Harris and Lopez combined for back-to-back goals, giving the Gators a running clock with 13:24 remaining in the game.

The Phoenix scored to get back within nine goals, but Maddie McMaster registered her first collegiate goal to put the Gators up 14-4. Madisyn Kittell also posted her first goal of the season, putting Florida ahead 15-5 with 2:39 left in the game.

The Gators were able to hold on to the 10-goal lead for the final two minutes of the game, giving the squad its second win of the season.

Records
No. 16 Florida (2-3, 0-0)
Elon (2-5, 0-0)

O’Leary’s Insight

–         “We really came together for an all-around solid win tonight. Our control in the draw circle was fantastic and our defense stepped up and allowed our offense to be successful.”
Notables

–         Sydney Pirreca recorded her first hat trick of the season and the 21st of her career

–         Sabrina Cristodero posted a season-best seven draw control wins

–         Kaitlyn Dabkowski’s three caused turnovers were a career-best mark for the sophomore

–         Brianna Harris registered four points on the night, a season-best performance

–         Lindsey Ronbeck recorded two goals on the night, creeping closer to 200 career goals. The senior currently sits at 175 and is looking to become just the third Gator to hit the 200-goal mark

–         Streaking: Hicklen has recorded a save in now 31-straight games, tied for the third-best mark in program history

–         Streaking: Ronbeck has recorded a goal in 16-straight games

–         Streaking: Three Gators are closing in on the most consecutive games with a draw control (27): Brianna Harris (21), Sabrina Cristodero (19), Shannon Kavanagh (18)

–         Ronbeck earned her second yellow card of the day with 25:31 to go in the second half, not allowing her to return the rest of the way

–         The Gators earned their 50th road win in program history, moving to 50-20 overall (.714)
Up Next

–         The Gators head down the road to High Point, N.C. to face the Panthers on Saturday

–         Saturday’s opening draw is set for 2 p.m. at Vert Stadium

–         Florida holds the 2-0 advantage over High Point

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.