via UF press release, by Katie Callahan and photo by Maddie Washburn
Florida wins its sixth-straight season opener and 10th overall
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The seventh-ranked Florida lacrosse team opened its 2023 season with a Top-20 victory on Sunday afternoon, defeating the 17th-ranked Michigan Wolverines 17-8 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
This is the sixth-straight season opening win for Florida and the Gators move to 10-4 overall in season openers.
Florida was led offensively by a four-goal, three-assist performance from Emma LoPinto. She clinched her 100th career point in the game, becoming the fastest Gator to hit that mark. Madison Waters and Maggi Hall each followed with a hat trick of their own, finishing the day with three goals apiece.
Danielle Pavinelli added two goals on the afternoon, while Emily Heller, Paisley Eagan, Emily Diaz, Josie Hahn and Ashley Gonzalez each tallied one goal in the victory.
LoPinto dished out a team-high three assists on the afternoon, while Pavinelli registered two of her own.
In the draw circle, the Gators came up with 15-of-29 wins, with Emily Diaz leading the way with her five draw controls. Heller, Eagan and Hahn followed with two draw control victories apiece.
On the defensive end, Florida held Michigan to 8-of-31 shooting (.258) on the afternoon. Five Gators posted a caused turnover on the day: Eagan, Hahn, Alexa Waters, Catherine Flaherty, Shelton Sawers.
Sarah Reznick registered a team-high four groundballs, followed by two apiece from Hahn, Waters and Flaherty.
In the cage, Sarah Reznick tallied 12 saves in her 56:39 minutes between the pipes, for a .600 save percentage. Elyse Finnelle saw two shots and saved them both for a 1.000 save percentage in her first action.
The Gators return to action on Saturday, Feb. 18 against the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C. Opening draw is set for 12 p.m. on ESPN+
No. 7 Florida (1-0)
No. 17 Michigan (1-1)
How It Happened
- The defense was the highlight for both teams in the first quarter, with the teams combining for just three goals.
- The Gators got off to the quick start, with LoPinto scoring her first goal of the season just 73 seconds into the game. That was followed by a Hall unassisted score with 12:12 remaining in the first.
- Michigan found its way onto the board with just under three minutes remaining in the opening frame, scoring on a free-position attempt to cut Florida’s lead to one.
- Pavinelli found the back of the cage just under three minutes into the second quarter on a pass from LoPinto to give Florida the 3-1 lead, but the Wolverines once again answered to cut their deficit to one.
- Madison Waters secured the first goal of her Gator career with 10:46 remaining in the half, but Michigan responded with back-to-back goals to knot the game at 4-all.
- LoPinto and Waters scored the final two goals of the half for Florida – all with under three minutes remaining to give the Gators the 6-4 lead going into the locker room.
- Out of halftime, Florida scored back-to-back goals from the sticks of Hall and Eagan, taking the 8-4 lead with just over three minutes played in the third quarter.
- Michigan got one back, but Gonzalez and Heller each netted their first goals of the year to put the Gators ahead five at 10-5. The Wolverines pulled to within three in the third quarter, scoring twice within the span of one minute, but the Gators closed out the third frame with three-straight goals to pull ahead six at 13-7. The goals came from the sticks of LoPinto, Hahn and Diaz.
- The fourth quarter belonged to the Gators, with four of the five goals scored coming for Florida. Hall recorded a hat trick to start the fourth-frame scoring, while LoPinto and Pavinelli went back-to-back over the span of 35 seconds to give Florida the 16-7 lead.
- Michigan scored its final goal with 8:59 remaining in the game and Madison Waters put the Gators’ final goal in the back of the cage to secure the 17-8 victory.
- Gator Debuts:
- In her Florida debut, Madison Waters registered a hat trick, going 3-of-5 with one draw control
- Theresa Bragg earned the start on defense in her collegiate debut, finishing the day with one groundball
- Emily Diaz recorded a team-high five draw controls along with one goal on the afternoon
- Emma LoPinto hit her 100th career point in the game, becoming Florida’s 20th 100-point scorer and the fastest Gator in program history to hit the mark (23 games)
- Her seven points were the second-highest total in a season opener (LoPinto – 8, 2022, Ashley Bruns – 8, 2010)
- Sarah Reznick surpassed Mikey Meagher (2010-13) for the second-most saves in program history with her 12 saves on the afternoon
- Florida is now 10-4 in season openers, including six-straight wins
- The Gators improve to 4-0 against the Wolverines in the series
- Florida owns an impressive 117-21 (.848) record in the confines of Donald R. Dizney Stadium
- When scoring at least 14 goals, the Gators are 167-2 (.988) in program history
- Streaking: Sarah Reznick recorded a save in 52-straight games, the second-longest streak in program history. She is just one game away from tying the program record set by Mikey Meagher (53 games, 2010-13)
- Streaking: Danielle Pavinelli has registered a point in 26-straight games and a goal in 24-straight games
- Streaking: Emma LoPinto has tallied a point in 20-straight games
- Streaking: Maggi Hall has registered a point in 16-straight games
- Streaking: Emily Heller had recorded a draw control in 24-straight games, the fourth-longest streak in program history
- Streaking: Liz Harrison has recorded a draw control in 20-straight games
Insight from O’Leary
- “I’m really proud of the effort this team showed against a well-coached, talented Michigan squad. We came out of the locker room after the first half and the pieces really started coming together. There’s always room for improvement, but happy with what we saw out on the field today.”
- The Gators return to action on Saturday, Feb. 18 against the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Opening draw is set for 12 p.m. on ESPN+
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