DENVER - Florida Southern will continue its historic season here Thursday afternoon as third-ranked Florida Southern will face fourth-ranked Lindenwood in the first of two national semifinal games of the 2016 NCAA Division II Women's Lacrosse Championships at the Regency Athletic Center on the campus of Metro State University.
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The Moccasins, who are the No. 1 seed from the South Region, advanced to the national semifinals following its 8-5 victory over seventh-ranked and fifth-seeded Rollins on Saturday in the second round of the South Regional Tournament at Lakeland's Bryant Stadium. The Mocs hosted the first two rounds of the South Regional Tournament and earned a first round bye.
FSC comes into Thursday's national semifinal match-up having won a school record 12 games and is sporting a 17-3 overall record. The 12 game winning streak is currently the second longest active streak in Division II as only top-ranked and two-time reigning Division II National Champion Adelphi has won more consecutive games as the Panthers have reeled off 27 straight wins heading into their national semifinal match-up with No. 2 ranked Le Moyne.
Meanwhile, Lindenwood comes into Thursday's game sporting a 17-2 overall record and the Lady Lions have won seven straight games since suffering a 10-9 overtime loss in Lakeland to the Mocs on March 31. During its current seven game winning streak, the Lady Lions have won their last seven games by an average margin of 9.57 goals.
Lindenwood earned its third straight appearance in the national semifinals after collecting a 13-4 win on Saturday against No. 6 seeded Queens (N.C.) in its second round South Regional Tournament game in St. Charles, Mo. The Lady Lions defeated Lock Haven (10-9) in 2014 national semifinals and then fell 11-6 to Lock Haven in last season's Final Four.
One of the biggest reasons behind the Moccasins success this season has been the play of its defense as they enter the Final Four second nationally in Division II in caused turnovers per game (13.60) and is eighth nationally in scoring defense as they are allowing 7.10 goals per game and have held 10 of its 20 opponents to six or fewer goals and have allowed just five foes to score double-digit goals.
Barowski leads the SSC in ground balls (53) and is tied for third in the SSC in caused turnovers with 30. Barowski, who was a LaxMagazine Preseason Player of the Year candidate and is a First-Team IWLCA All-South Region selection, enters the NCAA Final Four second among active Division II in caused turnovers with 116 and is tied for 15th among active Division II players in ground balls with 151.
Griffith, who is a Second-Team IWLCA All-South Region selection, leads the team and is second in the SSC in caused turnovers with 37 and is third on the squad in ground balls with 33.
Other key members of the Moccasin defense are senior defender Nicole Bellini (Winter Park, Fla.), redshirt sophomore defender Parrisa Sakinejad (Millers, Md.) and junior goalkeeper Taylor Gillis (Bel Air, Md.).
On the season, Bellini is tied for third in caused turnovers with 29 and has collected 27 ground balls, while Sakinejad is tied with Bellini for third in caused turnovers with 29 and is fourth in ground balls with 31.
In goal, Gillis has helped solidify the Moccasin defense as the All-SSC performer is sixth nationally in goals against average (6.53) and has posted an 11-2 record. In addition, she is second in the SSC in save percentage (47.3 percent) and averages nearly five saves per game. Along with Gillis, sophomore Paige Brodbeck (Millersville, Md.) is 6-1 on the season and has a 48.1 save percentage and an 8.22 goals against average on the year.
Meanwhile, on offense, the Moccasins average 13.50 goals per game and has scored 10 or more goals in five of its last six games and 15 times overall on the season. Five Mocs have scored 20 or more goals on the season, including an SSC-best 52 goals by junior attacker Kendall Kerge (Edgewater, Md.). FSC is in the Top 20 in Division II in points per game (21.30), goals per game (13.50), assists per game (7.80) and scoring margin (6.40).
In addition to Kerge's 52 goals and 107 shots, other key performers on offensive for the Mocs this season are sophomore attacker Meghan O'Brien (Rochester, N.Y.), sophomore midfielder Emily Santoli (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) and senior attacker Ashley Robertson (Ellicott City, Md.).
O'Brien, who has been named both a First-Team All-SSC and IWLCA All-South Region selection, leads the team and SSC in assists (36) and is second in points with 64, while Santoli, who was also a First-Team All-SSC and IWLCA All-South Region selection, leads the Mocs in points (65) and draw controls (59) and is third in goals (34) and Robertson, who was a First-Team All-SSC honoree and a Third-Team IWLCA All-South Region selection, is second on the squad in goals with 42 and has totaled 50 points and is one of just four Moccasins to record 100 or more career goals as she enters the Final Four having scored 116 career goals.
While Robertson joined the 100-Goal Club in early April, Kerge comes into the Thursday's game with Lindenwood needing just one goal to become the fifth Moccasin to score 100 goals in a career. In two-plus seasons as Moc, Kerge has scored 99 goals in 54 games, including scoring a career high eight goals in the Mocs SSC Tournament semifinal win this season against Tampa.
Lindenwood, who plays lacrosse in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and went undefeated in RMAC play for the fifth consecutive season, comes into Thursday's second match-up this season with the Mocs sporting an offense that is fourth in Division II in scoring margin at 7.95 goals per game. In addition, the Lady Lions have scored in double figures in 15 of 19 games and is 14-1 in those contests with the only loss being a 12-11 setback at Rollins on March 29.
Leading the way offensively for the Lady Lions, who are averaging 14.50 goals per game and have scored 274 goals in 19 games, is senior attacker Amanda Schimpke, who has scored 38 goals and has had a team-best five game winning goals. In addition to Schimpke, sophomore attacker Allison Hurley leads the team in points (65) and assists (320 and is second in goals (33). Hurley has tallied a team-high 15 multi-point games this season.
The other Lady Lion that has scored at least 30 goals this season is junior attacker Rachel Benzing as she has tallied 31 goals, recorded 28 assists and has totaled 65 points on the year.
Another player on offense for Lindenwood is senior midfielder Jordyn Constance, who has recorded at least one point in all 19 games this season and has tallied a point in 33 consecutive games dating back to March 24, 2015. On the season, Constance has had 23 goals, 24 assists and has picked up 28 ground balls and has caused 20 turnovers.
On defense, the Lady Lions are allowing 6.61 goals per game and has caused a school record 209 turnovers, which surpassed the old mark of 166 set last season. Lindenwood has also picked up 377 ground balls.
Lindenwood's defense is paced by the play of junior defender Erin Abbott, who has caused 32 turnovers, picked up 39 ground balls and has collected a team-best 60 draw controls. Abbott, who was named the RMAC Defensive Player of the Year, has caused three or more turnovers in eight games and has had three or more ground balls in a game eight times.
In addition to Abbott, junior defender Molly Beckham has also been strong on defense for the Lady Lions as she has caused 25 turnovers and has picked up 24 ground balls.
In goal, Lindenwood has been paced by the play of sophomore Rachel Ortell, who is 11-0 on the season. On the year, Ortell has allowed 64 goals and has a 6.01 goals against average and has recorded 70 saves and has a 52.2 save percentage. The Lady Lions other goalkeeper is junior Solomon Delaney, who is 6-2 on the season and has allowed 59 goals (7.03 goals against average) and has had 53 saves (47.3 save percentage).
The winner of the Florida Southern-Lindenwood national semifinal game will face the winner of Thursday's other national semifinal game that pits No. 1 ranked Adelphi (20-0) facing No. 2 ranked Le Moyne (18-2) on Saturday, May 21 at 4 p.m. Eastern for the national championship. The Adelphi-Le Moyne semifinal game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.