LAKELAND - Florida Southern went toe-to-toe here Saturday afternoon with top-ranked Limestone, but the Saints would use a nine goal second quarter to take a 16-9 halftime lead and ultimately prevail 23-15 over the Moccasins in non-conference action at Bryant Stadium.
With the setback, the Mocs fall to 5-4 on the season and have lost two straight games, while Limestone, who are the reigning Division II National Champions, improves to 8-0 on the season.
In Saturday's game, junior attacker Tyler Kopen (Wynnewood, Pa.) finished with four goals and added an assist, while sophomore midfielder Cody Gray (Riverview, Fla.) had three goals and two assists in the loss. The Mocs also got another outstanding performance from sophomore midfielder Lucas Claude (Calgary, Alberta) as he finished with three goals and three assists for six points and freshman midfielder Nick Gutmann (Sachem, N.Y.) added a career-high two goals.
After Limestone's Kyle Rhatigan scored a goal just 57 seconds into the contest to give the Saints a 1-0 lead, the Mocs would get back-to-back goals from Kopen (Wynnewood, Pa.) and Gutmann to take a 2-1 lead a litle over six minutes into the contest.
The Mocs lead, though, was short-lived as goals from two goals from Vinny Ricci and a goal from Mike Messenger gave the Saints a 4-2 lead with 6:42 left in opening period.
Another goal by Kopen pulled the Mocs within 4-3 with six minutes left in the game, but the Saints answered with a three goal flurry to push its lead to 7-3 with 4:53 remaining.
FSC would rally as they closed the first quarter by scoring three straight goals to pull within 7-6 at the end of the opening period. The Mocs goals were scored by freshman midfielder Dalton Simpson (Henderson, Nev.) and Claude, who scored two of the three goals.
In the second quarter, Limestone scored three goals in the opening three-plus minutes to push its lead to 10-6.
Gray, though, would stop the Saints run with an unassisted goal with 9:49 left to pull the Mocs within three at 10-7.
The Saints would answer Gray's score by scoring five consecutive goals over a span of four-plus minutes to push its lead to 15-7.
Kopen and freshman attacker Liam Winwood (Kings Park, N.Y.) would each tally goals to bring the Mocs within 15-9 with 2:26 left, but Colton Watkinson would score a goal with 19 seconds left in the half to give the Saints its 16-9 lead at the half.
The Saints lead eventually grew to 19-9 as they opened the third quarter by recording three straight goals, including two from Charlie Sheehan, who was one of five Saints to score three or more goals in Saturday's game.
FSC would close the quarter with goals from Gray and Claude to drop LC's lead to 19-11 after three quarters.
Kopen would then open the final quarter with man-up goal just 14 seconds into the period to pull within 19-12.
That would be as close as the Mocs would get, though, as the Saints scored four straight goals, the latter being a man-up goal by Rhatigan with 7:42 left in the game to give Limestone a 23-12 lead.
Gutmann, Gray and junior attacker Cody Dyer (Slingerlands, N.Y.) would each score goals in the final seven minutes of the game to cap the scoring.
Rhatigan led the way for the Saints with six goals and two assists, while Messenger, Sheehan, Ricci and Chris Clancy each had three goals in the win.
Limestone outshot the Mocs, 54-44 and also held a 38-25 edge in shots on goal.
Kopen led the way for the Mocs with 12 shots, while Gray had 10 and Dyer finished with seven.
The game featured a combined 13 penalties, including eight by Limestone. FSC had five penalties in the game. Neither team, though, was successful on extra-man opportunities as Limestone went 3-for-5 and FSC was 2-for-8 in the game.
LC also held a 41-20 edge in ground balls, including 12 by Kevin Reisman, who also was 17-for-26 on face-offs in the win.
Freshman Joseph Biondi, Jr. (Orange, Conn.) also had 17 face-off wins as he finished the game 17-for-38 on face-offs.
Junior Matt Lalli (New Milford, Conn.) played a little over 32 minutes in goal for the Mocs and recorded 10 saves and allowed 14 goals. He also had four ground balls on the day. Sophomore Michael Greco (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) played a little over 24 minutes between the pipes and had five saves to go along with allowing seven goals.
Limestone's Patrick Sheridan played 52 minutes in goal for the Saints and finished with eight saves and allowed 12 goals. Danny Forren played the final eight minutes and allowed three goals and had two saves.
The Mocs will return to action on Thursday, March 17 as they host Colorado Mesa in a 7 p.m. game at Bryant Stadium.