LAKELAND - Florida Southern opened its fifth season of intercollegiate competition here Thursday evening by falling 10-7 to 15th-ranked Grand Valley State in non-conference action at Bryant Stadium.
The fifth-ranked Moccasins, who lost its season opener for the first time in brief history of the program, scored the game's first three goals and led 5-4 at the half, before the Lakers outscored the Mocs, 6-2 in the second half to rally for the victory. In last season's opener against Grand Valley State, the Mocs picked up a 17-12 win.
In addition to marking the season opener for the Mocs, it also marked the first-ever Florida Southern women's lacrosse game without Caitlin Chase, Megan Asper, Megan Colucci and Lorianne Hoover. All four of those players were seniors on last year's NCAA Tournament team and are also the only four-year letterwinners in the program's history.
All four of those players combined to score 547 career goals and account for 911 career points, including combining to score 169 of the team's school record 360 goals and account for 269 of its school record 569 points in 2015.
The Mocs opened the scoring 69 seconds into the game on an unassisted goal by sophomore midfielder Emily Santoli (Fort Salonga, N.Y.). FSC increased its lead to 2-0 just a little over four minutes into the game on a goal by sophomore attacker Meghan O'Brien (Rochester, N.Y.).
Santoli would add her second goal of the game with 24:01 left in the first half as she scored on a free position shot to give the Mocs a 3-0 lead.
GVSU (1-0) would get on the scoreboard with 18:05 left in the opening period as Carlyn Shisler scored on a free position shot and the Lakers second goal would come 18 seconds later as Kira Dosenberry tallied an unassisted goal.
The Mocs, though, would respond by using goals from junior attacker Kendall Kerge (Edgewater, Md.) and senior attacker Ashley Robertson (Ellicott City, Md.) to take a 5-2 lead with a little under seven minutes remaining in the first half.
Grand Valley State, who was picked to repeat as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion in the league's preseason poll, would score two goals in a span of 56 seconds later the first half to the Mocs lead to 5-4 at the half.
The Lakers used a goal just two-plus minutes into the second period from Preseason All-American Erika Neumen to tie the game at 5.
Moccasin freshman attacker Dani Bursinger (Powell, Ohio) gave the Mocs a 6-5 lead just 67 seconds after Neumen's goal. Bursinger's goal came off an assist from Santoli.
GVSU, though, would score the next five goals, including three of them being unassisted, to take a 10-6 lead. The final goal of the run was on a free position shot by Neumen.
Trailing 9-6 with a little over 12 minutes left in the game, the Mocs had back-to-back shots on goal by O'Brien and Kerge that both hit off the post.
The Mocs would respond on a third goal from Santoli with 2:20 left in the game to pull the Mocs within 10-7, but would only get one more shot attempt the remainder of the game.
With her three goals, Santoli has now tallied three goals in a game 13 times in her collegiate career and also had an assist in the game for four points.
GVSU got two goals apiece from Neumen, Shisler, Meghan Datema and Danielle Tunnell in the win.
Both teams each recorded 23 shots on the night as Santoli had five shots, while Bursinger had three and Kerge added two. Neumen had a game-high seven shots, while Datema and Shisler each had four.
One season after leading Division II in caused turnovers, the Mocs opened the 2016 season by causing 15 turnovers, including redshirt sophomore defender Parrisa Sakinejad (Millers, Md.) had four on the night. GVSU had nine caused turnovers for the game.
Each team also had 16 ground balls each and GVSU held an 11-9 edge in draw controls.
Junior goalkeeper Taylor Gillis (Bel Air, Md.) went the distance in the pipes for the Mocs as she made five saves and allowed 10 goals.
The Lakers used two goalies in the win as Sarah Zwilsky started the game and was pulled about 12 minutes into the game after allowing three early goals and then played the entire second half as she finished with five saves and allowed five goals. Brianna DeMilla replaced Zwilsky in the first period and allowed two goals and had three saves.
GVSU finished the game with 25 turnovers, while FSC had 20 turnovers. The two teams combined for 25 turnovers in the first half.
Florida Southern will return to action on Monday, Feb. 22 as they host two-time defending Division II National Champion Adelphi in a 7 p.m. game at Bryant Stadium. Adelphi posted a 21-1 record en route to repeating as the national champions. Over the last two seasons, Adelphi has posted a 43-1 overall record. Last season, the Mocs fell 15-13 to the Panthers in Lakeland.