Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

Freshman Emma LoPinto made her debut as a Gator on Saturday against Kennesaw State. A college debut is something for the memory books, but LoPinto’s performance will place her in the history books as well. 

Florida (1-0) defeated the Owls (0-1) 22-7 in an unstoppable team effort on both offense and defense. LoPinto, who now holds the UF record for most goals (6) in a season opener and most goals by a freshman, was joined by 11 other Gators in the goalscoring frenzy. 

The Gators came out to an abrupt start, scoring their first two points before KSU could even gain possession. Multiple members of Florida’s squad had career nights, including a career-high in goals and assists from sophomore Danielle Pavinelli.

The Owls made a valiant effort to keep up with Florida by drawing first blood in the second quarter, but Florida responded with a 6-0 run to put a sudden end to their opponent’s chances. The Gators forced ten turnovers and only allowed 18 shots from KSU.

“It was great to get back out onto the field today,” Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary said in a release. “We saw a lot of bright spots, including some from our newcomers, but we were also able to see places where we need to improve to continue to have success.”

Florida enters this season hoping to avenge its quarter-final defeat in the NCAA Tournament last season. The loss soured an 18-3 regular-season record with promising championship implications.

Now ranked #1 in the American Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll and featuring six preseason All-AAC selectees, the Gators are expected to maintain similar production this spring. If Saturday’s opener is any indicator, Florida is in a good position as the season gets underway. 

“We are looking forward to getting back to work and building on that foundation this week,” O’Leary said.

The Gators will play in an exhibition game against Scotland on Tuesday before returning to regular season play against North Carolina at Donald R. Disney Stadium on Nov. 19 at noon.

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