2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 8 Florida (Women)

PHOTO BY ALEXIS GREAVES

Danielle Pavinelli registered 73 goals and 26 assists as a sophomore.


The 2023 college lacrosse season is almost here. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 8 FLORIDA

2022 Record: 17-5 (5-0 AAC)
Final Ranking (2022): No. 19
Coach: Danielle Spencer

TOP RETURNERS

Danielle Pavinelli, A, Jr.

An All-American and silver medalist with the U.S. women’s Sixes team, Pavinelli enters 2023 primed for another big season. She registered 73 goals and 26 assists as a sophomore, essentially tripling her offensive output. She and Emma LoPinto form a top-tier 1-2 punch.

Emma LoPinto, A, So.

An absolute force as a freshman, LoPinto contributed 63 goals and 34 assists and shot a robust 54.8 percent. A crafty attacker with a nose for the goal, LoPinto could elevate herself into another stratosphere this spring.

Sarah Reznick, G, R-Jr.

Primed for her fifth spring in Gainesville, Reznick redshirted her true freshman season and has started all 51 games since. She faced 485 shots last year — by far the most of her career — but she has the talent to bail out a defense that is anything but set in stone.

KEY ADDITIONS

Tayler Warehime, A (North Carolina)

A team captain for the 2022 national champion Tar Heels, Warehime brings battle-tested experience to a Florida team with loads of talent that has yet to get over the hump. Her career-best season came in 2021 as a junior for UNC when she scored 38 goals with eight assists.

Madison Waters, M (USC)

A junior, Waters comes to Gainesville looking for a fresh start after starting 11 of 16 games for USC last season. An all-around middie, Waters produced 23 goals, two assists, 16 ground balls, 12 caused turnovers and seven draw controls for the Women of Troy before hitting the transfer portal. She adds valued depth to the middle of the field on a team that, on paper, appears heavier on attack.

Emily Diaz, DS (Bryant)

Diaz is a midfielder on the Florida roster, but make no mistake: Diaz is on the team to win draws. She set the Bryant single-season record with 138 draw wins a year ago, and she was seventh nationally with 8.12 draw wins per contest.

KEY DEPARTURES

Graduations: Leigh Lingo, D; Maeson Tydings, D; Catherine Moriarty, D
Transfers: Emma Wightman, D (USC)







STORYLINES TO WATCH

Can a young team build on an Elite Eight berth?

Florida’s still a young team that will be led by a young attack. With no key departures in the unit, expect an already strong unit — headlined by Danielle Pavinelli and Emma LoPinto — to be bolstered even further by the addition of North Carolina transfer Tayler Warehime. A captain for UNC during its championship run last spring, Warehime last appeared in a game on May 19.

Largely mitigated to a support role last season, Warehime has significant experience as both a starter and scorer. Her veteran presence, especially in championship environments, is pivotal to Florida’s growth, Amanda O’Leary said.

“She knows what it takes to get there,” O’Leary said. “She’s won it.”

That addition alone won’t push Florida over the edge, but O’Leary was active in the transfer portal and again brings in an impressive crop of freshmen. The Gators will ultimately go as far as the offense takes them.

Can an untested defense take pressure off Sarah Reznick?

Reznick was steady in 2022, but she took a step back from an outstanding 2021 season. That could partially be attributed to an uptick in shots faced. In 2021, she saw 369 shots and saved 153. In 2022, she saw 485 and saved 168.

O’Leary called the defense “a wide-open position this year” outside of captain Cat Flaherty. Becky Browndorf is expected back after suffering a season-ending injury just six games into last spring. Outside of that pairing, expect freshmen Theresa Bragg and Kaitlyn Davies (a midfielder) to make an impact defensively. Shelton Sawers, a midfielder last year, is now back to focusing solely on defense.

“We have a good group that’s competing,” O’Leary said. “The goal for us is to not have [Reznick] bail us out so often. She got stuck in that situation quite a bit last year. We’re going to try and ease up on that a little bit.”

Who will emerge on the draw circle?

The draw, much like the defense, is an open competition. Emily Diaz transferred in from Bryant as a draw specialist after setting Bryant’s single-season draws record (138). It’s likely that she has the early edge inside the circle, but there’s a smattering of others in the conversation for outside the circle.

USC transfer Maddie Waters figures to have the inside track on a spot given her experience as a true two-way middie. From there, Liz Harrison, Paisley Eagan, Emily Heller and Kaitlyn Davies could see time, too.

Eagan and Heller, specifically, are gutsy players with nonstop motors who could be valuable on 50-50 balls.

“The draw, not only for us but a lot of people, is a challenge,” O’Leary said. “It’s finding the right mix on that draw circle because of how important that is in this point in time.”

ENEMY LINES
WHAT RIVALS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE GATORS

“They are always super competitive. They always play without any fear. They pretty consistently expect to win and don’t care who is standing in front of them, and they are good at that.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

98.6%

EGA is my metric for overall player production. It’s like WAR in baseball or PER in basketball. It takes all the good and bad things that a player does and puts it into a single number. And since it’s an all-in-one metric, it’s a good way to look at returning production. Measured this way, EGA suggest that a good word to describe the 2023 Florida Gators is continuity. The Sunshine State Reptiles return 98.6% of their production from last season.

Lacrosse Reference Glossary

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