FINAL: FLORIDA 19, MARQUETTE 8
Gainesville, FL – It was a record setting kind of day in Gainesville on Thursday and we aren’t talking about the Florida heat and humidity, this time.
The Gators advanced to the Big East Conference title game for the fourth consecutive year behind the record breaking performance of Lindsey Ronbeck.
Ronbeck set a Big East record (and tied a UF program record) by scoring eight goals, including five in the opening period of play. Ronbeck opened the scoring at the 27:43 mark in the first half on the way to leading Florida past the #4 seeded Marquette Golden Eagles.
Much of the first half was a back and forth affair with Florida keeping just a bit of breathing room between them and Marquette. That was, until Ronbeck struck with just 4.2 seconds remaining in the first half. “That [goal] was a momentum shifter right there,” Gators head coach Amanda O’Leary stated after the win. Ronbeck cited her focus as a contributing factor.
With momentum on their side, Florida stormed out of the break scoring three goals in the first couple of minutes highlighted by a pair of Ronbeck goals only nine seconds apart.
The Gators defense was able to hold from there. Florida limited Marquette to just thirteen shots on goal while the Gators seemed to fire at will. Florida finished with 45 shot attempts and 36 of those on net. The Gators defense forced Marquette into 23 turnovers and set the tone for much of the game.
Ronbeck explained how she exploited the Golden Eagles defense as “from the crease I was able to beat them underneath, I knew they were coming for the backcheck after I sealed [the defender] off. I protected my stick and shot early…because I knew they were weak around the crease.”
Senior Shayna Pirreca finished with four goals while her sister Sydney added a hat trick as well with three.
Ronbeck wasn’t the only record setter of the day. Not by a long shot. Marquette GK set a school record with 17 saves. Senior defender Sabrina Cristodero also set a UF program record for draw controls for a season. Cristodero surpassed a mark previously held by Mollie Stevens (2017). Cristodero recorded 11 to up her season total to 110. Also setting a single season record was junior GK Haley Hicklen who set the new mark for saves in a season surpassing the 2012 total of Mikey Meagher. Hicklen was only forced to make three saves, but it was enough for the win and the new program record.
This was Florida’s 32nd straight win against Big East competition with one more game to be played before the Gators join the American Athletic Conference next season.
Florida advances to the Big East Conference Championship game and will face the winner of the Denver-Georgetown contest that is currently ongoing. O’Leary believes that Saturday’s championship game will be tightly contested because both teams are “top ranked teams in the country.”