Panthers Upended by FSC in NCAA South Region Final

Caroline Dunleavy – Sports Lowdown Photo

Florida Southern scored the final eight goals of the game Friday and came away with a convincing 19-10 victory over Florida Tech in the NCAA Division II Women’s Lacrosse South Region championship game in Lakeland, Florida. It is the second consecutive year that the Moccasins ended the Panthers season in this round.

The game was tied 6-6 at the half, but the Mocs’ ran away late, outscoring Florida Tech 13-4 in the final 30 minutes. Defense and goaltending were the difference in that half, as Florida Southern kept the Panthers off the board for the final 16 minutes of the game.

Credit to FSC goalie Alanna Zambetti, who made four of her nine saves in that decisive second half. She is now 11-1 on the season.

With the win, the Mocs earn a berth in the NCAA Division II Final Four, taking place in Tampa. They will take with them an eight-game winning streak. Florida Tech finishes 17-3. The victory total is a school record, but it is the second straight season that Florida Southern has handed the Panthers all of their losses.

Shannon Gilfedder led the offensive attack for Florida Southern with seven goals, while Emily Santoli finished with five. Florida Tech was led by Caroline Dunleavy who finished with a hat-trick. Leah Dunn and Lauren Tybor scored two each, to pace the Panthers.

Florida Tech senior goaltender Stephanie Stuart, who made 13 saves in Friday’s semifinal win over Limestone, did all she could on Saturday, as Florida Southern put 34 of their 38 shots on cage and Stuart saved 15 of them, with eight coming in the first half.

FSC (20-1) got going early with consecutive goals from Gilfedder, scored 50 seconds apart.  After Mary Gormley made it 2-1, FSC got a goal from Santoli. Dunleavy and Tybor answered with back-to-back goals, tying the game 3-3 with 14:06 left in the first half.

The squads traded goals from there, with Sam Schiano tying the game at six, with 1:04 left in the half. The teams went into the break, not only even on the scoreboard but close to even in a lot of statistical categories.

Florida Tech led 17-16 in shots, while Florida Southern held a 17-12 advantage in ground balls. They won seven draws to FIT’s six and Florida Tech turned it over eight times, to FSC’s 10. Each team was 13-of-14 on clears.

Gilfedder picked up right where she left off, scoring the first goal of the second half. The Panthers came back with single tallies 35 seconds apart, from Dunn and Dunleavy, and just like that, the Panthers had their first lead of the day, 8-7 with 26:03 to go.

After a curious false start call on Florida Tech, Dani Bursinger was able to find the back of the net, tying the game at eight. It took another 35 seconds for Casey O’Brien to give the home team the lead again, 9-8.

After Aleah Fjelstad tied the game at nine with 21:07 to go in regulation, the Mocs’ got goals from Santoli and Gilfedder to make it 11-9. Dunleavy would score with 16:04 to go in the contest, closing the gap to 11-10, but that would end up being the final goal of the game for the Panthers.

Gilfedder and Santoli combined to score the next four goals and Shannon Mazza, Bursinger, Casey O’Brien and Marina Jozokos found the scoresheet, to end the game.

Florida Southern outshot Tech 22-13 in the second half and won 13 of the 18 ground balls in the second half. There were 68 fouls called in this game, with 39 going against the Panthers.

For more info: Florida Tech @ Florida Southern Box Score (NCAA South Region Final)

With the season now over for the Panthers, we would like to thank head coach Corinne Desrosiers, along with assistant coach Taylor Marshall for their interviews and help this season in bringing you coverage of the team. Thank you as well to the players who were gracious enough to give interviews throughout the course of the season.