The 20th-ranked Florida Tech women’s lacrosse team got a much-needed win on Wednesday, beating the Lee Flames handily, 22-2. Florida Tech scored 16 goals in the first half.
“I told the team before the game, now is their time to come out and prove who they are and what they look like as a team,” said Panthers head coach McKenzie Rafferty. “I think they did that perfectly on both sides of the ball. Obviously, there’s still some things we can work on, but as a whole, we’re really breaking down, and working on our fundamentals and seeing what we can work on and focus on those things.”
Wednesday’s result was a far cry for the Panthers performance on Sunday in an 18-5 loss to Queens College. The Panthers defense was much improved and the scoring started early, giving the Panthers a cushion to work with.
“We played as a team and we talked a lot about the cohesiveness of our team both on and off the field,” said Rafferty. “This was a good game to come out and work through some of our sets against a different team and see the level that we need to step up to.”
The Panthers outshot Lee 38-6, and dominated ground balls 24-10. Draw controls went the way of the Panthers, 18-8, while they were successful on six of their seven clears.
Alexis Townsend led the Panthers with seven points, tallying two goals and five assists. Mollie Kaplan and Leah Dunn each scored five goals and added one assist for a six-point night.
Kaplan got things going early, scoring 54 seconds into the game against Lee starter Abby Sanders. After Dunn scored two goals 17 seconds apart, Kaplan went back-to-back in the span of 47 seconds and just like that, she had a hat-trick. Townsend assisted on both goals and the Panthers were up 5-0, 5:52 into the game.
After Sam Schiano made it 6-0, Kailee O’Brien scored twice in the span of two minutes and it was 8-0. Schiano and Townsend each scored 53 seconds apart and the rout was on, as the running clock went into effect with 13:59 left in the first half.
After Townsend scored her second of the contest, Kaplan buried her fourth, assisted by Townsend to make it 13-0. Schiano would get her hat trick with 7:20 to go in the half, making it a 14-0 game. Kaplan’s fifth of the night made it 15-0 with 26:33 gone in the first half. The Panthers final goal before halftime would come out of the stick of Dunn, her fourth of the night with 2:38 left.
Florida Tech (3-3) ripped off 25 shots in that first half, 24 of them were on goal with Sanders making eight saves. Florida Tech starting goalie Chloe Zador only had to make one save, on the only shot Lee took in the half.
The lead the Panthers built in the first half allowed Rafferty to get some players in who hadn’t seen much game action in the early going, including freshman goaltender Hannah Murphy, who saw time a couple of games ago and played the entire second half on Wednesday. She registered three saves, allowing just two goals.
Sophomore Hunter Cairo kept the momentum going for Florida Tech, scoring her first of the season with 45 seconds gone in the second half, giving the home team a 17-0 lead. Lee would get a goal 3:48 into the half from Rachael Giles.
After Dunn made it 18-1, it was time for the freshman to take a bit if the spotlight. Lexi Sheely scored for the second time this season, and Lexi Woviotis got her first collegiate goal, on a feed from Cairo, giving the Panthers a 20-1 lead with 12:35 left.
Another first time scorer in Caroline MacLeod made it 21-1, before Becca Broadwick spoiled the party with a goal for Lee, making it 21-1. A familiar goal scorer got the Panthers final goal of the night, as Aleah Fjelstad scored with 4:10 to go in the game.
For more info: Lee @ Florida Tech Box Score
This kind of win can go a long way in building the confidence of a team that, while having some senior leadership, is still trying to find their way as a team in a lot of respects, at least this early in the season.
“We are young and this is more of a rebuilding year,” said Rafferty. “Having only five players that have a full season under their belt is kind of what we’re working with so we’re trying to build that foundation and build a team where everyone is contributing, not just the 12 on the field. I think this was a good game to kind of test that out and really work together in all facets of the game.”
Florida Tech next plays against Edinboro on Friday. This a neutral site game in Conway, SC. The opening draw is set for 7:00 p.m.