It was a high scoring affair Monday night at Florida Tech Panther Stadium where the Panthers women’s lacrosse team lost to the Scotland National Team 18-17 in an exhibition match.
“We’re young, so we’re trying to get used to playing together and working together as a unit,” said new Panthers head coach McKenzie Rafferty after the game. “Right now it’s good to get out here and have some competition other than ourselves.”
The first half of the game was played with International rules and the second used the collegiate rules.
“That was something new for the girls and something we hadn’t played for a while,” said Rafferty. “We were trying to get used to that and trying to enjoy the fact that we were competing against someone other than ourselves.”
Junior Mollie Kaplan led the Panthers with eight points (5 g, 3 a), junior Aleah Fjelstad had five goals, senior Sam Schiano had two goals and two assists, and junior Alexis Townsend had one goal and three assists.
Junior Chloe Zador is now the number one goalie, taking over for Stephanie Stuart who graduated. Zador made eight saves, six of those coming in the first half.
“Chloe plays great,” she’s always on top of her game.” said Rafferty. “She tracks the ball well, she steps well, and she always has a good positive energy to the defense which we can really use since we’re so young. It’s nice to have her back there.”
Despite the fact that the Panthers were adjusting to the International rule, they did come out quickly, scoring the first three goals of the game, two of those by Dunn. It took two and a half minutes for the Scottish National team to even see the offensive end of the field, but they answered with a three-goal run of their own to tie the game, at the 7:25 mark.
Dunn got her hat-trick with 11:18 left in the first half, but that goal was answered quickly by Bee Hull, tying the game at four. Scotland would stretch the lad to 7-4, before Schiano and Fjelstad went-back-to-back, closing the gap to 7-6 with 10:50 to go in the half.
Jenni Aiton scored 51 seconds later to give the National team a two goal lead. Aiton was the biggest offensive weapon for the visitors, with four goals and six assists on the night.
Goals by Fjelstad and Schiano tied the game at eight, but Scotland scored the next five, before freshman Kailee O’Brien made it 13-9 with 38 seconds left in the half.
Scotland got the first goal of the second half to get their lead back to five, but Fjelstad would score three of the next four Panther goals to make it 14-13. Mollie Maclean got one back for Scotland 9:12 into the half, answered by Kaplan 15 seconds later, to make it 15-14. Townsend’s second goal of the night tied things up with 10:35 gone in the half.
Dunn and Kaplan would strike while the iron was hot, putting the Panthers up 17-15. but Scotland would score three goals in a span of 2:52, going up 18-17. Florida Tech made a furious rin in the final seconds, but turned the ball over with just seconds left.
“Obviously I wanna win in this situation, we wanna win all of our games” said Rafferty. “But I think this gave us a good opportunity to see what we need to work on and what we need to prepare for in order to compete against Lenoir-Rhyne, and Limestone, and Chowan, our three game swing this weekend.”
The Panthers will play all three of those games Rafferty mentioned on the road, beginning with the game against Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday. First draw in is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.