Coming into Saturday’s game, the University of Florida, ranked No. 2 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Association poll, had four one-goal victories on the season.
Gators freshman midfielder Lindsey Ronbeck scored her third goal of the game with four minutes, sixteen seconds remaining to break a 9-9 tie, propelling Florida to the win at Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.
On the draw following Ronbeck’s goal, the Gators—who were 8-of-21 on draws—won possession but turned the ball over with 2:47 remaining, giving the Owls (8-3, 0-1 Big East Conference) one last oppertunity to tie the game and force sudden-death overtime.
Senior defender Sydney DuPre guarded senior attacker Rachel Schwaab as she delayed behind the net, looking for an open teammate cutting to the goal. When Schwaab made a move towards the eight meter arc, she slipped and turned over the ball.
The Gators ran out the rest of the clock to defeat the Owls in their Big East opener.
“We haven’t been in a situation yet this year in a big game with one goal, down by one with not a lot of time left,” coach Bonnie Rosen said. “I gave the green light to Rachel for her to have the opportunity to take her player one-v-one and [it] just didn’t end up developing fully for her until she unfortunately didn’t get a chance to finish with her shot.”
With the game tied at 9 with less than 10 minutes remaining, redshirt-senior goalkeeper Jaqi Kakalecik made one of her four saves and passed the ball upfield to set the Owls up in the attacking third of the field.
Gators freshman midfielder Sydney Pirreca committed a foul and was assessed a yellow card, giving the Owls a man-up opportunity for the next two minutes.
The Owls were unable to total a shot with the advantage, and Ronebeck scored the game-winning goal minutes later.
“We weren’t going to rush the opportunity of being up a player and just get a shot off…We used the two minutes up and then looked to attack from there,” Rosen said. “We just really stuck to the gameplan all day knowing that Florida had the ability to score if they had the ball, so we wanted to make sure we had a good scoring opportunity and one that didn’t give them too much time to do anything else with the ball.”
The Owls kept pace in the first half with the Gators, who came into the game with the No. 15 ranked offense in Division I.
After Rosen called timeout after Florida scored twice in a 30 second span to take a 6-5 lead, senior midfielder Kirstie Connor scored one of her three first-half goals to tie the game 1:26 after the Gators took a one-goal advantage.
“Our whole goal in the game today was to give ourselves the chance to win at the end of the game,” Rosen said. “We weren’t worried about winning the game from the beginning and I think that really helped. I think they just kind of stayed the course and we knew we could come back with the draw and come up with balls.”
The Owls started the second half trailing 8-7 before conceding a goal 3:09 into the half. Senior attacker Brenda McDermott assisted on senior attacker Megan Pinkerton’s goal 5:51 after the Gator’s goal.
McDermott then scored her second goal of the game to tie the game at nine at the 13:32 mark of the second half.
As McDermott shot the ball, she collided with a Florida defender and had to leave the game with an upper body injury. It was the senior’s first game back in the lineup since sustaining an ankle injury against the University of Delaware. Rosen said McDermott will see a doctor when the team returns to Philadelphia.
Evan Easterling can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.