Florida Gators lacrosse wins tournament championship

Special report on the Florida Gators lacrosse team:

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The No. 18 Florida women’s lacrosse team hoisted the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament trophy on Saturday after defeating Cincinnati 15-9 at Sheakley Athletics Center.

This is the sixth-straight conference tournament championship for the Gators, dating back to the 2014 season (ALC – 2014, BIG EAST – 2015-18, AAC – 2019).

Florida notched the Tournament’s most outstanding player in Lindsey Ronbeck, along with five other All-Tournament team spots: Sydney Pirreca, Shannon Kavanagh, Grace Haus, Cara Trombetta and Haley Hicklen.

Ronbeck led the way offensively, scoring six goals to secure the victory for Florida. Shannon Kavanagh followed with four goals and three assists, while Grace Haus and Brianna Harris each recorded two goals.

Florida won 16 draw controls on the day, led by five apiece from Shannon Kavanagh and Sabrina Cristodero.

The Gators caused 12 turnovers throughout the game, led by three from Cara Trombetta. Cristodero and Dabkowski each posted two in the game as well.

Haley Hicklen racked up six saves in the game for a .400 saves percentage.

How it Happened
The Bearcats got out to the early 1-0 lead after a free-position conversion, but Brianna Harris came off a great screen to score the equalizer. Just 36 seconds later, Harris found Sydney Pirreca, who muscled one into the back of the net to put the Gators up 2-1.

Grace Haus and Shannon Kavanagh kept the scoring streak going, both converting on free-position attempts to put the Gators up 4-1. Lindsey Ronbeck recorded her first goal of the day with 23:16 remaining the first half to give Florida a 5-1 lead.

Cincinnati scored three consecutive goals within three minutes to cut Florida’s lead to one at 5-4, but Ronbeck once again found the back of the net to stop the run and give Florida the two-goal lead.

Haus scored her second goal of the game with 12:35 remaining in the first half to give Florida the 7-4 lead and Ronbeck followed with her third goal of the day to extend the Gators’ lead to four goals.

The Bearcats notched their fifth goal of the game with 6:50 remaining in the first half to cut the deficit to three. Both teams would remain scoreless for the remainder of the frame, with the Gators taking the 8-5 lead into the locker room.

Harrris recorded her second goal of the game on a free-position attempt less than two minutes into the half, extending Florida’s lead to four goals at 9-5.

Ronbeck kept Florida’s scoring going, giving Florida the five-goal lead with her fourth goal of the day, but Cincinnati answered 25 seconds later to bring it back to within four goals.

From the 8-meter line, Paige Aldave found Ronbeck behind the net, who cut through the defense and scored an acrobatic goal while falling to put the Gators up 11-6. Ronbeck followed with another goal – bringing her to six on the day – this time on a goal from Harris.

The Gators kept it rolling, taking the 13-6 lead after Pirreca found Kavanagh in front of the net for a point-blank shot and goal. Pirreca found Kavanagh again 11 minutes later to push Florida’s lead to eight goals at 14-6.

Kavanagh continued to roll, scoring her third goal in a row with 5:28 minutes remaining in the game.

Florida’s defense held Cincinnati scoreless for a stretch of 20:55 in the second half before the Bearcats scored at the 4:20 mark, helping to secure the victory for the Gators.

Cincinnati closed out the game with two more goals, but Florida was able hold on and win the inaugural AAC Tournament championship.

American Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team
Tournament MVP: Lindsey Ronbeck
All-Tournament Team: Lindsey Ronbeck, Sydney Pirreca, Shannon Kavanagh, Grace Haus, Cara Trombetta, Haley Hicklen

Records
No. 18 Florida (13-6, 5-0)
Cincinnati (12-7, 4-1)

O’Leary’s Insight

–         “When you win the inaugural conference championship, it is such an exciting feeling. All the credit goes to these young women behind me. They work so hard all season and I am so proud of their effort today. It was a total team effort – that was a great Cincinnati team, but the Florida Gators showed up today.”
Notables

*        The Gators have now won six-straight conference tournament championships, dating back to the ALC in 2014

o   This is the program’s seventh overall

*        Lindsey Ronbeck recorded her 15th hat trick this season after recording six goals during the game

*        Haley Hicklen won her 48th career game today, just two wins away from tying Mikey Meagher’s program record of 50

*        Shannon Kavanagh scored four goals against Cincinnati, putting her at 98 for her career

o   She is on pace for 100 goals this season, becoming just the 12th Florida player to hit that mark

o   If she records 1\00 goals this year, she will be just the second Gator to hit the milestone by the end of their second year

*        Grace Haus registered two points on the day, moving her to 95 points in her career

o   She is looking to hit the 100 point mark this season

o   She would be just the 17th Gator to hit the milestone and seventh to do so in their first two years

*        Streaking: Haley Hicklen has recorded a save in 45-straight games, the second-best mark in program history.

*        Streaking: Lindsey Ronbeck has also scored at least one goal in 30-straight games, the third-best mark in program history

*        Streaking: Shannon Kavanagh is now tied with Sabrina Cristodero for Florida’s streak for consecutive games with a draw control, recording one in 32-straight games.

Gators Graduating

–         11 Gators earn their UF degrees this weekend: Caroline Benitez, Annie Collins, Kendra Cronin, Paige Aldave, Alix Lopez, Lindsey Ronbeck, Caroline May, Madi Hall, Jillian Alonso, Haley Hikclen and Sydney Pirreca
Up Next

–         The Gators await Sunday’s selection show to see where they will be heading for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament

–         The NCAA selection show airs Sunday night at 8 p.m. on NCAA.org

–         The Gators have advanced to the NCAA Tournament each season since 2011

#FLax

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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.