WINTER PARK - In a battle between the top two teams in the Sunshine State Conference here Thursday evening it was Florida Southern that come out on top as the sixth-ranked Moccasins posted an impressive 15-6 victory over third-ranked Rollins at Barker Family Stadium to claim its second consecutive regular season title and host next weekend's SSC Tournament at Bryant Stadium.
With the win, the Mocs extended its win streak to nine straight games and improved to 14-3 overall and 4-0 in the SSC, while Rollins had its four game win streak snapped and fell to 13-2 overall and 3-1 in the SSC.
The win was the Mocs largest victory margin over a nationally Top 5 ranked team in school history and its largest margin of victory over a nationally ranked team since posting a 17-6 win earlier this season at home against then 14th-ranked Mount Olive.
Since the SSC began offering women's lacrosse as a sport in 2015, the Mocs have posted an 8-0 record in league play and are 9-1 overall against league foes since last season with the only loss being a 12-10 overtime loss in last year's SSC Tournament championship game against Rollins.
In Thursday's victory, senior attacker Ashley Robertson (Ellicott City, Mo.) and junior attacker Kendall Kerge (Edgewater, Md.) combined for nine of FSC's 15 goals as Robertson had a career-high five goals and Kerge added four goals on the night.
After the teams played nearly even in the first half as the Mocs took a 6-5 lead with 13 seconds left in the first half on a free position shot by Kerge, the Mocs would open the second half by scoring eight straight goals to push out to a 14-5 lead en route to securing the win and talking home its second straight regular season title.
Rollins got on the scoreboard first in Thursday's game as Tyler Thomas found the goal for her then league leading 39th goal just about four minutes into the game.
The Mocs, though, would use back-to-back goals from sophomore midfielder Emily Santoli (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) and Robertson to take a 2-1 lead just a little over eight minutes into the game.
Back-to-back goals from Kallie German gave the Tars a 3-2 lead with 18:51 left in the first half, but the Mocs would answer with unassisted goals from sophomore attacker Meghan O'Brien (Rochester, N.Y.) and Santoli to push out to a 4-3 lead with 15:34 left in the opening half.
Rollins' Grayson McPhee scored an unassisted goal with 12:05 left in the first half to tie the game at 4-all.
The Mocs retook the lead with 2:23 left in the first half on a goal by Robertson that was assisted by O'Brien. O'Brien finished the night with her second straight four assist game and has now recorded an SSC leading 31 assists on the season.
Rollins' Paige Brock answered Robertson's goal with an unassisted goal of her own with 36 seconds left to tie the game, before Kerge's goal with 13 seconds left in the first half gave the Mocs its one-goal lead at the half.
FSC opened its second half scoring barrage with a goal by Robertson just a little over two minutes into the half and added a goal by O'Brien nearly two minutes later to give the Mocs an 8-5 advantage.
Santoli would have a hand in the Mocs next two goals as she assisted on goals by sophomore attacker Cayla Shawfield (Oviedo, Fla.) and sophomore attacker Shannon Gilfedder (Longwood, Fla.) to push the Mocs lead to 10-5 with a little over 12 minutes into the second half.
Robertson gave the Mocs an 11-5 lead with 16:08 left in the game and then pushed its lead to 12-5 20 seconds later on a goal by Kerge.
Kerge scored another goal 48 seconds later to push the Mocs lead to 13-5 and Robertson made the score 14-5 with 10:22 left in the game. Robertson's goal was assisted by O'Brien.
Trailing 14-5, German scored her third goal of the season with 3:56 left to stop the Mocs scoring run and the Mocs would cap the scoring with a goal from Kerge off a pass from Robertson, who finished with a career-high tying six points in the win.
On the night, the Mocs held a 22-19 edge in shots, including a 20-13 edge in shots on goal. Robertson had six shots and Santoli added five shots on the night. German had six of Rollins' 19 shots in the loss.
The Mocs also held a 17-10 edge in ground balls as 12 Mocs picked up at least one ground ball in the win and FSC also went 11-for-15 on clears and won 14 draw controls. Rollins was 8-for-12 on clears and earned nine draw controls.
Junior goalie Taylor Gillis (Bel Air, Md.) was solid once again in goal for the Mocs as she recorded seven saves, allowed six goals and picked up two ground balls in 60 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Malorie Olin played 45 minutes in goal for the Tars and picked up three saves, allowed 13 goals and had one ground ball. Ansley Lowery played the final 15 minutes in goal and allowed two goals and had two saves.
The Mocs will now turn its attention to the postseason as they will host the SSC Tournament next weekend (April 29 and May 1) at Bryant Stadium. The Mocs will be the No. 1 seed and will face either Tampa or Saint Leo depending on the outcome of Saturday's game between Florida Tech and Saint Leo, which will be played at Saint Leo. Rollins is the No. 2 seed, while the No. 3 seed will also be determined by the outcome of the SLU-Florida Tech game.