2018 Face-Off Yearbook All-Americans: Cara Trombetta, D, Jr. (First); Sydney Pirecca, M, Sr. (Second); Haley Hicklen, G, Sr. (Second); Lindsey Ronbeck, A, Sr. (Third); Sabrina Cristodero, D, So. (Third); Shannon Kavanagh, Dr/M, So. (HM)
Impact Arrival: Maddie Ellis, Vero Beach (Fla.)
Ellis was one of the most productive women’s lacrosse players in the state of Florida; she totaled 104 goals, 56 assists, 104 draw controls, and 100 groundballs in her high school career. Now, she heads to the flagship university in her home state and will look to make an instant impact for the Gators.
Position Unit of Strength: Goalie
The Gators have a talented, veteran presence in net for the 2019 season. Hicklen played some her freshman season but took over the starting job in earnest her sophomore year and then was named the 2017 Big East Goalkeeper of the Year. Last season, Hicklen started 21 games for the Gators and made 178 saves on 499 shots faced. She was a 2018 ILWomen Second Team Media All-American and was a Tewaaraton nominee. Now a senior, she’ll look to build off her already impressive stats from last season, continue to fill her trophy case and make every save for the Gators in net.
Preseason Storyline: New Conference
The American Athletic Conference is a new conference for the 2019 season. Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Temple and Vanderbilt join Florida for its first season. The Gators are the heavy favorites of the group. Vanderbilt, under new head coach Beth Hewitt, will likely emerging as the biggest challenger.
Bottom Line: Lots of Returning Talent
It’s almost silly when you sit down and think about all the players the Gators are returning off of last year’s team that went 17-4 and lost to James Madison in the NCAA Tournament. Ronbeck, who led the team with 65 goals, returns. Cristodero and Kavanagh, who led the team in draw controls with 127 and 89 respectively, both return. All-America midfielder Pirecca is back. Hicklen returns in net. The challenge for the Gators will be finding a way to get as much experience playing against non-conference opponents in big-time situations so they will be ready when the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament come on in May.
Written by John Bauman, Inside Lacrosse