LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College women's lacrosse jumped out to a big early lead but had to hold off a furious late rally as it picked up a thrilling 13-12 win over No. 17 Tampa in Sunshine State Conference action on Tuesday at Moccasin Field. The No. 1 Moccasins (11-0, 2-0 SSC) raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first eight minutes of action before the Spartans (8-4, 1-1) found their footing and gave the Mocs perhaps their toughest test of the season.
Leading by four goals (13-9) with five minutes to go, Florida Southern saw its lead dwindle to just one (13-12) with 1:22 on the clock before Emily Santoli snagged a crucial draw control to allow the Mocs to run out the moments of play en route to the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern looked as if it might roll to another easy win as Santoli scored less than two minutes into the first half as the Moccasins struck for four goals in the first eight minutes of action. Marina Jozokos, Shannon Mazza, and Meghan O'Brien also tallied goals in the opening eight minutes. Tampa got on the board at the 20:23 mark of the half to slice the deficit to three (4-1), but the Mocs answered right away when Dani Bursinger converted a free-position shot less than a minute later to make it 5-1.
• Despite its early scoring run, Florida Southern's offense would falter late in the first half as Tampa ended the opening period on a 3-1 run to make it 6-4 at the half. Santoli opened the second-half scoring just a minute into the action, and the Moccasins struck for three goals in the opening five minutes of the half to take a 9-5 lead with 24:54 to play.
• After the Spartans scored to make it 9-6 at the 22:10 mark, Santoli would fire home her third goal of the evening to push the lead back to four (10-6) at the 21:54 mark. However, Tampa would score the next three goals to pull within one (10-9) with just under 11 minutes to play. Florida Southern answered with three-straight goals of its own to go back up by four (13-9) with just over seven minutes to go.
• Despite a sizeable lead, the Mocs were forced to hang on for dear life at the end of the game. The Spartans scored three times in the final five minutes, including a goal with 1:22 to play, to put the pressure on Florida Southern with just moments to go. Santoli was able to corral the final draw control, and Sam Keesey came up with key ground ball pickup to help the Mocs gain the final possession of the game and run out the clock.
• Santoli tallied her seventh hat trick of the season, while Bursinger, O'Brien, and Shannon Gilfedder each scored twice. Riley Bannatyne and Catherine DeKorte also scored in the game, while six different players tallied an assist. Santoli snagged a game-high 10 draw controls, while Keesey caused three turnovers. The Moccasins outshot the Spartans 36-24, but Tampa goalkeeper Bridget Sutter helped keep her team in the game by making 14 saves.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 7-0 all-time against Tampa, including 5-0 when facing the Spartans at home. The Moccasins ran their regular-season winning streak to 26 in a row while extending their home win streak to 21-straight games. The Mocs improved their record in regular-season SSC contest to a perfect 14-0 all-time.
• Santoli has scored at least three goals in each of the past four games. Florida Southern is 6-0 against ranked opponents this year and improved its all-time record against ranked opponents to a whopping 33-16.
• Florida Southern travels to Mount Olive on April 30 and returns to Sunshine State Conference play at Rollins on April 4.