Ronbeck lifts Florida to Big East tourney win

Florida Gators Madi Hall spins around a Marquette Golden Eagles player during the Big East lacrosse tournament on May 3, 2018. The Florida Gators beat the Marquette Golden Eagles 19-8. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Junior midfielder Lindsey Ronbeck said she didn’t set out to tie a program record for goals in a game before Florida’s Big East semifinal matchup with Marquette.

“It’s nothing I ever expect coming in, scoring eight goals,” Ronbeck said. “I’m lucky if I even get one because every defender is really tough on the teams that we see.”

Behind eight goals from Ronbeck, Florida pulled away to beat Marquette 19-8 on Thursday afternoon at Dizney Stadium. Ronbeck matched a record set twice by Ashley Bruns and once by Shannon Gilroy, who was the last UF player to score eight goals in a game against High Point on Feb. 15, 2014.

“Lindsey, her one-v-one ability is tremendous,” Florida coach Amanda O’Leary said. “But just her distribution ability as well and she rides really hard, Lindsey is the whole package. It’s not just she’s a goal scorer.”

Top-seed Florida(15-3) will face third-seed Denver in the tournament finals on Saturday at noon at Dizney Stadium.Denver knocked off second-seed Georgetown 12-7 in the second semifinal Thursday night. Florida won at Denver 18-13 on April 22 in the regular season matchup between the two teams, a game that was tied at halftime before Florida found a way to win in the second half.

The Gators, who extended their conference win streak to 28 straight games Thursday, will be vying for their fourth straight Big East Tournament title.

“We’re just one step closer to our final goal and I think we’re excited for Saturday,” said Florida junior midfielder Sydney Pirreca, who added three goals in the Marquette win.

Ronbeck scored five of her eight goals in the first half, including one with 4.3 seconds left in the half that put the Gators up 10-4 halftime. That momentum carried into the second half, as Florida scored the first three goals to extend its lead to 13-4.

“In postseason, you might see the same teams, but you also see different (versions) of the same teams, they come out stronger and harder and they’re more determined,” Ronbeck said. “That was a huge test going into the game against Marquette because they are a talented team.”

Florida out-shot Marquette 27-8 in the first half, but only led 10-4 at halftime due to the strong play of Marquette goalkeeper Jules Horning, who had 13 saves in the first half and 17 in the game.

“I wouldn’t say we came out flat but shots weren’t falling,” O’Leary said. “And when that happens I think that kind of pulls your momentum down a little bit. We were getting great opportunities. I have to credit their goalie. I thought she was fantastic. She was holding her position and she was making some huge saves.”

Eventually, though, Florida pulled away. Senior midfielder Shayna Pirreca added four goals and two assists for Florida, while freshman Shannon Kavanagh added a goal and four assists.

Ronbeck wasn’t the only Gator to enjoy a record-setting day. With 11 draw controls, freshman defender Sabrina Cristodero set a program record for draw controls in a season, while junior goalkeeper Haley Hicklen (three saves) set a program record for career saves.