via press release – photo via UF web site
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida women’s lacrosse team opened the 2017 season with a loss on Saturday after going toe-to-toe with No. 1-ranked North Carolina at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
The Gators were paced by a pair of hat tricks from Pirreca sisters Shayna and Sydney. Senior Mollie Stevens also turned in two goals and an assist.
A Shayna Pirreca goal with 7:58 to play in the second half tied the score up at 9-9, and UF looked poised to make a run after trailing for a majority of the game. Defender Caroline Fitzgerald came away with the ensuing draw control, but the Gator offense was unable to capitalize after its next three shots were saved by Tar Heel goalkeeper Caylee Waters.
Florida forced North Carolina into 19 turnovers including a shot clock violation in the second half, but did not have many opportunities on the offensive end. The Gators were outmuscled on draw controls, 17-8.
Making her first career start in goal for the Gators, sophomore Haley Hicklen turned in a solid outing with 12 saves against a high-powered Tar Heel offense.
North Carolina: 2-0
- Saturday’s game marks the seventh time in the program’s eight seasons the Gators have played the defending national champion in the regular season (2-5).
- Three Gators made the first start of their career: midfielder Allie Pavinelli, goalkeeper Haley Hicklen and defender Cara Trombetta.
- UNC outdueled UF on the draw, winning 17 compared to eight for the Gators
- #PirrecaPower: Shayna Pirreca and sister Sydney Pirreca combined for six out of Florida’s 10 goals.
“This is a phenomenal team (North Carolina). It’s why they are number one in the country, certainly a well-deserved honor. It’s a fun game to play. Am I disappointed we lost? Absolutely. But what a great learning experience for our team. Overall, I wouldn’t pass up a game like this for all the world even though we lost.”
Junior Shayna Pirreca:
“We definitely had a lot of energy going into the game. I thought it was a good effort for our first game – There were a few kinks here and there, but that’s expected for your first game. I give a lot of credit to North Carolina, the reigning national champions, they gave us a really great game.”
Senior Mollie Stevens:
“We let them (North Carolina) take us out of our game in a way on the offensive end. Our defense really saved us in a lot of situations today. We did well, but we did not play to our full potential and we know that.”
Up Next: Florida will welcome the Scotland National Team to Gainesville for an exhibition game on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. On Feb. 24, No. 4 Southern California comes to The Diz for a 6:30 p.m. tilt.