LAKELAND, FL - Dani Bursinger scored five goals and Florida Southern College women's lacrosse held off a late charge by No. 1 Adelphi to earn a thrilling 17-16 win in the 2018 home opener on Saturday at Moccasin Field. The No. 2 Moccasins (2-0) dominated the majority of the contest, but the Panthers (0-1) scored three times in the final minute and a half to make things close at the end.
The Mocs led by as many as six goals (12-6) in the opening four minutes of the second half and held off Adelphi to pick up the 100th win in program history and avenge a pair of losses to the Panthers last year. Bursinger added two assists on the day for seven total points and four other players scored multiple goals for Florida Southern, which christened its brand-new facility with a signature win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern got on the board first when Bursinger drew a foul and found the back of the net on a free-position shot to score the first-ever goal at Moccasin Field with 27:01 to go in the first half and give the Mocs an early 1-0 lead. Adelphi was able to tie things up just a minute later when Kole Pollock scored on a free-position of her own to make it 1-1, and grabbed a 2-1 lead when Pollock scored again from a free position at the 24:32 mark.
• Riley Bannatyne drew the match even at 2-2 when she took a feed from Casey O'Brien and scored with 22:01 remaining in the half, but the Panthers answered back again on Michelle Scannell's free-position shot less than 20 seconds later. The Moccasins seized all the moment over the next eight minutes by scoring four-straight goals to take a 6-3 lead and never trailed again. Emily Santoli tied things up when she scored on a man-up opportunity at the 20:09 mark, and have Florida Southern the lead just 23 seconds later thanks to an assist from Julia Couch. Marina Jozokos added a goal at the 18:22 mark to make it 5-3. Aubriana Benedetto added another goal with 15:47 to go in the half to make it 6-3 and force an Adelphi timeout.
• Following the timeout, the Panthers struck for a pair of goals to pull within one (6-5), but the Mocs answered back again and scored three of the final four goals of the half to take a 9-6 lead into the locker room.
• It looked like Florida Southern would run away and hide in the second half as the Moccasins opened the final period of play with three goals in the first four minutes to snag a 12-6 lead when Meghan O'Brien connected on a free-position shot with 26:35 to go in the game. Florida Southern was able to hold a multi-goal lead until Lena Riportella scored with 12:30 left to pull the Panthers within one (13-12), but the Moccasins again ripped off three-straight goals to take a 16-12 advantage with 8:39 to play.
• The contest looked to be over for good when Shannon Mazza scored what would end up being the game-winning goal with 2:13 to go to make it 17-14, but the Panthers struck three times in the final two minutes to make it 17-16 with 54 seconds left. Adelphi would win the final draw control of the game and had three outstanding chances to tie things in the final seconds, but Pollock shot wide on two attempts and Moccasin goalkeeper Alanna Zambetti made the play of the game with a save just before the buzzer to preserve the win.
• Bursinger led all player in scoring, while Santoli finished with three goals. Bannatyne, Jozokos, and Mazza each scored twice, while Benedetto, Gilfedder, and M. O'Brien finished with a goal each. Zambetti made seven saves in the contest, five of which came in the second half. Jozokos won seven draw controls and had four ground balls. The Panthers finished with a 33-31 edge in shots, but the Moccasins won 22 draw controls and completed 12-of-14 clear attempts.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern earned the 100th win in program history, all of which have come under head coach Kara Reber. Reber improved her career coaching record to 168-68, including a 100-20 record with the Moccasins. The Mocs improved to 4-2 all-time against the Panthers. The 17 goals allowed by Adelphi are tied for the second-most by any opponent in program history, and the most since C.W. Post defeated the Panthers 17-8 on May 4, 2002.
• Through two games this season, 11 different players have scored at least two goals for the Moccasins. Bursinger leads Florida Southern with eight goals in two games, while Couch has tallied a team-high four assists this year.
• Florida Southern improved to 64-11 all-time in home games, including 1-0 at Moccasin Field and 63-11 at Bryant Stadium (2012-17). The Mocs are now 9-1 in their last 10 games against nationally-ranked opponents. Seven of those victories have come against teams ranked in the top-10 nationally.
• Saturday's game featured a pregame field dedication and ribbon cutting. The ceremony included remarks from Reber, Florida Southern director of athletics Pete Meyer, and FSC trustee Keith Berend (father of Moccasin freshman Molly Berend). Moccasin men's lacrosse head coach Marty Ward, men's soccer head coach Jason Carlson and women's soccer head coach Paul Lawrence were also on the field for the ribbon cutting. They were joined by student-athletes Colin Bayer (men's lacrosse), Gaelyn Crowder (women's soccer), Kylie Harris (women's soccer), and Daniel Moore (men's soccer).
• The game was dedicated to the memory of Maureen Harrah, mother of Moccasin freshman Abbi Harrah. Maureen passed away from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in January. Donations were made in her memory to the MOj13 Foundation, and a special plaque was placed in her season ticket seat location. The plaque will remain in her seat for at each home game for the duration of the season.
• Florida Southern returns to action with a pair of doubleheaders on March 3 and March 5 at Moccasin Field. The Mocs will face Seton Hill (10 a.m.) and Tusculum (4 p.m.) on Saturday, March 3, before hosting Young Harris (11 a.m.) and Westminster (1:30 p.m.) on Monday, March 5. Florida Southern plays its next seven games at home before opening Sunshine State Conference play at Florida Tech on March 24.