LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College women's lacrosse rallied back to earn its fifth-straight trip to the Sunshine State Conference title game. The Mocs (16-2, 5-1 SSC) used a 14-goal first half to defeat Florida Tech (7-9, 2-4 SSC) in the first round of the conference tournament. Three different Mocs finished with four points each in the victory.
Aubriana Benedetto led the Florida Southern offense with four goals on the night. Catherine DeKorte and Riley Bannatyne each recorded three goals, while Marina Jozokos and Grace Glinecki added on a pair of goals each. Six additional Mocs found the back of the net in the victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Tech jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead to open the game but Florida Southern was having none of that as they would score the games next seven goals to take a 7-1 lead through the first ten minutes of the game. Maliah Benedetto tied the game up at the 27:35 mark of the first half to tie the game at 1-1. Brenna Smith put the Mocs up 2-1 to take a lead they would never come close to giving up. After Jozokos assisted on an A. Benedetto goal she put one past the Panthers goalie to make it a 4-1 FSC advantage. Bannatyne scored her first of three free position goals on the night at the 21:14 mark of the first half. Following A. Benedetto's second goal, Bannatyne put her second free position goal in the back of the net as she extended the Mocs lead to 7-1. Off a feed from Alexis Townsend, Sam Schiano ended the Mocs 7-0 run to bring the Panthers within five. The Mocs would go on a 4-0 run as Glinecki put two past Chloe Zador before Ashley Norberg and DeKorte brought the Mocs within one of a running clock. In reverse of the Panthers second goal, Townsend scored off a pass from Schiano to keep the Mocs under the ten-goal advantage. DeKorte put an unassisted goal in the back of the net just prior to A. Benedetto putting the Mocs up by ten on a free position attempt. Bannatyne would close out the first half scoring with her third free position goal of the game at the 2:38 mark of the first half. Florida Southern took a 14-3 lead into the halftime break.
• Just as the first half began, the Panthers scored the first goal of the half as Mollie Kaplan put her second of four past the Mocs goalie. A. Benedetto added on a 15th FSC goal before Kaplan put her third goal in the back of the net. After nearly a five-minute scoring drought in the game, the Mocs' Jozokos took a feed from Bannatyne to make it 16-5. Gracie Maganzini added one to make it 17-5 in favor of the home team. Kaplan would take a feed from Leah Dunn for the Panthers third goal of the half. Julia Couch put her only goal of the game in the back of the net as she took a pass from Sarah Grady to give the Mocs an 18-6 lead. At the 6:23 mark of the second half, Brittney Embree scored the seventh and final goal for Florida Tech. DeKorte and Lizzy Lynch put two more past Zador as the Mocs earned their 11th all-time victory over the Panthers.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 11-0 all-time against Florida Tech. The Mocs are now 4-0 in SSC tournament action against the Panthers.
• Florida Southern won 21 of 29 draw controls.
• Florida Southern and Florida Tech both picked up 13 ground balls each. The two teams each had 15 clear attempts as the Mocs were successful 11 times to FIT's 10.
• The Mocs fired off 34 shots to 17 by the Panthers. Florida Southern caused 11 turnovers as FIT turned the ball over 18 times.
• Sam Keesey recorded her 100th draw control of the season with her sixth draw control of the game. She finished the game with nine total for 103 on the season. The senior is only the fourth SSC student-athlete to hit triple digits this season. She also joins teammate Dani Bursinger as the only Moccasins to hit the 100 mark in a single season. Businger recorded her 100th earlier this season for the third consecutive season. Keesey finished the 2018 season with 98.
• With the victory, the Mocs will advance to the SSC title game for the fifth consecutive season. Tampa defeated Rollins in Winter Park 14-10 and will meet the Mocs for a 1 p.m. showdown on Sunday.