The University of Florida proved why it is ranked second in the Inside Lacrosse and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association polls on Saturday at Howarth Field. The Gators ended Temple’s perfect home record and six-game win streak with their 15-5 victory.
Florida outperformed the Owls (13-3, 6-2 Big East Conference) in almost every category. The Gators finished with 19 draw controls, 38 shots and 17 ground balls. Temple finished with three draw controls, 12 shots and 13 ground balls. Florida also had an 86.7 percent success rate on clear attempts compared to Temple’s 66.7 percent.
The Owls finished the game with 21 turnovers, including 15 in the first half. The loss is Temple’s first at home since its loss to Connecticut on April 13, 2016 at Geasey Field.
“I think we were maybe a little intimidated by Florida today in some ways,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “Overall I think the difference in putting our best foot forward was today was our tentiveness in handling the ball both offensively and defensively and through transitions.”
The Owls finish their conference schedule on April 29 against Connecticut. Their first Big East tournament game will be on May 4 at Villanova Stadium. Florida could have clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win and loss by Georgetown University to the University of Denver.
Georgetown, Temple and Denver entered Saturday in a three-way tie for second place in the conference. The Hoyas beat No. 13 Denver to take sole possession of second place.
Temple, Georgetown, Florida and Denver have all clinched postseason spots. Temple and Denver both have 6-2 records in Big East play, but the Pioneers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“We know it’s not our last game,” Williams said. “We still have a lot to accomplish, we can’t put our heads down because this isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning of the tournament and moving forward.”
Temple’s goalkeepers, who faced the most shots on goal in a game this season, came away with 14 saves on the day. Freshman goalkeeper Maryn Lowell had 10 of those saves, including eight in the first half.
Redshirt freshman Kelsea Hershey came in with 19 minutes, 26 seconds to play and finished with four saves.
“We played really good defense, that wasn’t just me,” Lowell said. “It feels good to save goals against a team like this, but still to let up this many is disheartening.”
Senior attacker Mollie Stevens found her way to the goal to give Florida its first goal at the 27:51 mark. The Gators then went on an 9-0 run that lasted more than 25 minutes. Seven different players scored for Florida during its run, including Stevens and senior attacker Sammi Burgess.
Burgess led all players with four goals and five points. Stevens finished second in both categories with three goals and four points.
The Gators’ defense kept Temple scoreless for more than 28 minutes. With 1:44 remaining in the first half, senior midfielder Morgan Glassford scored her first of a team-high two goals.
Florida went on a 4-0 run that included two goals from sophomore midfielder Madi Hall and took a 13-1 lead to start the second half. The officials implemented a running clock because of Florida’s 12-goal lead.
The Owls stopped the Gators’ run with 17:25 remaining in the game. Freshman attacker Olivia Thompson scored on an assist from freshman midfielder Meghan Hoffman to make the score 13-2.
The Gators scored two more goals, their last with 6:49 left to play. Temple went on a 3-0 run in the final six minutes with goals from Glassford, senior attacker Brooke Williams and junior attacker Kira Gensler.
“We weren’t really getting as many offense opportunities as we wanted,” Williams said. “So being able to get a few more in the last seven minutes, while it wasn’t the performance we wanted offensively, it kind of made it a little bit better.”
This was Temple’s third loss to a ranked opponent and second loss in the Big East. The Owls’ first loss came against Princeton University, which is ranked sixth in the IWLCA Poll.
“I think this game makes you walk away wanting more, and that’s a perfect timing game for us right now,” Rosen said. “I think the biggest thing this game does is makes us realize the level that we are going to want to play as we go down the stretch to give us a chance to win a Big East tournament and get us to the NCAA tournament.”
Tessa Sayers can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SayersTessa. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.