Florida Gators lacrosse picks up four Big East awards

Special report on the Florida Gators lacrosse team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 6 Florida women’s lacrosse team claimed four major postseason awards and had seven players named to the 2018 All-BIG EAST Conference teams, as the league announced Wednesday. The awards come just a day before the Gators take on Marquette in the BIG EAST semifinal held at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

Junior Sydney Pirreca is the BIG EAST Co-Midfielder of the Year, junior Haley Hicklen is Goalkeeper of the Year and Shannon Kavanagh is Freshman of the Year. Florida’s coaching staff, under the direction of Amanda O’Leary was tabbed BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year for the third straight time. That honor came on the heels of Florida going undefeated in conference play en route to UF’s eighth straight conference title and fourth in the BIG EAST.

Pirreca earned Midfielder of the Year honors after racking up a career-high 44 goals, 56 points and 44 draw controls through 17 games played. She averaged 2.78 goals per game during BIG EAST play and she has recorded nine hat tricks during the season. The Mount Sinai, N.Y. native became just the 11th Gator to score at least 100 career goals against Denver on April 21.

Hicklen earned her second consecutive Goalkeeper of the Year award after recording 143 saves through 17 games. She sits just three saves shy of breaking Florida’s single-season record, held by Mikey Meagher (145). The junior has an overall save percentage of .485 and a save percentage of .509 in conference play. She notched a career-high 16 saves at No. 3 North Carolina and has been named a Tewaaraton Top-25 nominee for her efforts this season.

Kavanagh has scored 31 goals and added 20 assists through 17 regular season games to earn Freshman of the Year honors. She started all 17 of those games for the Gators and her 20 assists are the most by any Florida player on the roster this season. She currently sits at 78 draw controls, good for second-best on the team, and she has tallied 12 draw controls against two different BIG EAST opponents.

Florida had six First Team All-BIG EAST honorees in Hicklen, Kavanagh, senior Shayna Pirreca, Sydney Pirreca, junior Lindsey Ronbeck and sophomore Cara Trombetta. Sydney Pirreca, Ronbeck and Trombetta were all unanimous selections.

For Ronbeck, this was her third First Team selection, while Hicklen and Sydney Pirreca were both named to the First Team for the second time in their careers.

Shayna Pirreca, a two-time Second Team All-BIG EAST honoree, earned her spot on First Team for the first time in her career. The selection was also the first BIG EAST postseason accolade for both Trombetta and Kavanagh.

The Gators also garnered one Second Team All-BIG EAST honoree in freshman Sabrina Cristodero.


*        Overall, the Gators’ seven All-BIG EAST honorees were the most of any BIG EAST school

*        Florida’s six First Team honorees were the most by any school, as four other institutions tied for the second-most with two honorees (UConn, Denver, Georgetown, Marquette)
*        Head Coach Amanda O’Leary reeled in Coach of the Year/Staff of the Year honors for the sixth time in her tenure at Florida (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) and for the third time as a member of the BIG EAST
*        Sydney Pirreca earned her first major conference award with earning Co-Midfielder of the Year and she is only the third Gator overall to earn BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year (Shannon Gilroy – 2015, Nicole Graziano – 2016)
*        Shannon Kavanagh took home Freshman of the Year after her spectacular rookie campaign. She joins Lindsey Ronbeck as the only two Gators to earn BIG EAST Freshman of the Year honors
*        Haley Hicklen notched her second consecutive Goalkeeper of the Year award and sits in the company of Mikey Meagher (2013, ALC) as Florida’s only two goalies to each the accolade

BIG EAST Attacker of the Year: Grace Nolan, Connecticut, Sr., A
BIG EAST Co-Midfielders of the Year: Sydney Pirreca, Florida, Jr., M; Grace Gabriel, Marquette, Jr., M
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year: Cassie Ekstrom, Connecticut, Sr., D
BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year: Haley Hicklen, Florida, Jr., GK
BIG EAST Freshman of the Year: Shannon Kavanagh, Florida, M; Quintin Hoch-Bullen, Denver, A
BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year: Florida

All-BIG EAST First Team
Cassie Ekstrom, Connecticut, Sr., D
Grace Nolan, Connecticut, Sr., A*
Julia Feiss, Denver, Jr., A
Kennedy Milburn, Denver, R-Jr., D
Haley Hicklen, Florida, Jr., GK
Shannon Kavanagh, Florida, Fr., M
Shayna Pirreca, Florida, Sr., A
Sydney Pirreca, Florida, Jr., M*
Lindsey Ronbeck, Florida, Jr., A*
Cara Trombetta, Florida, So., D*
Taylor Gebhardt, Georgetown, Jr., A*
Natalia Lynch, Georgetown, So., M
Grace Gabriel, Marquette, Jr., M*
Allison Lane, Marquette, Sr., M
Nicole Latgis, Temple, Sr., D

All-BIG EAST Second Team^
Monica Borzillo, Cincinnati, So., A
Kelsey Catalano, Connecticut, Sr., M
Sydney Watson, Connecticut, Fr., M
Maddie Baum, Denver, Jr., M
Quintin Hoch-Bullen, Denver, Fr., A
Sabrina Cristodero, Florida, Fr., D
Haley Chomo, Georgetown, Jr., GK
Mollie Miller, Georgetown, Fr., D
Michaela Bruno, Georgetown, So., A
Cate Soccodato, Marquette, Jr., A
Maddie Gebert, Temple, So., M
Julie Blaze, Vanderbilt, Jr., M
Margaret Fee, Vanderbilt, Sr., D
Emily Mattewson, Vanderbilt, So., A
Kayla Peterson, Vanderbilt, Sr., A
Katie Comerford, Villanova, So., A
*unanimous selection
^extra player added due to a tie in voting

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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.