LAKELAND - Florida Southern scored 11 first half goals and then outlasted a second half rally by Tampa en route to posting a 19-10 victory over the Spartans in Friday's first semifinal of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament at Bryant Stadium.
With the victory, the top-seeded and third-ranked Moccasins advance to Sunday's championship game against No. 2 seeded and sixth-ranked Rollins at 12 p.m. at Bryant Stadium. Rollins earned its spot in the championship game following its 15-14 victory over third-seeded Florida Tech in Friday's second semifinal.
The Mocs improved its record to 15-3 overall and extended its win streak to 10 straight games, while Tampa concludes the season with a 5-10 record.
Unlike the first meeting against the Spartans on April 3, a game the Mocs won 18-7, the Spartans put up a stronger fight and was able to score six second half goal, including scoring the game's final three goals.
FSC's win was aided by a career high, a school record and SSC Tournament record eight goals from junior attacker Kendall Kerge (Edgewater, Md.). Kerge's eight goals helped break the old SSC Tournament record of five goals set by former Moccasin Megan Asper last season against Rollins.
The Mocs got the scoring started just a little over two minutes into the game as freshman attacker Dani Bursinger (Powell, Ohio) scored an unassisted goal.
UT, though, would answer nearly two minutes later with a goal from Natalie Carraway to tie the game at 1-1.
The Mocs would then score four straight goals, including two goals from Kerge, to push its lead to 5-1. FSC's other goals were scored by freshman attacker Casey O'Brien (Morris Plains, N.J.) and sophomore attacker Cayla Shawfield (Oviedo, Fla.).
Carraway would stop the Moccasin run of goals with 14:40 left in the opening half to pull the Spartans within 5-2.
Shannon Sweeney brought UT within 8-3 with 7:13 left in the first half, before redshirt freshman attacker Shannon Mazza (Kings Park, N.Y.) scored on a free position shot to give the Mocs a 9-3 lead with 4:58 left in the half.
Goals by sophomore midfielder Emily Santoli (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) and Robertson gave the Mocs an 11-3 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the first half, but UT would close the first half scoring with a goal by Rachel Crawford with seven seconds remaining to drop the Mocs lead to 11-4 at the half.
Emilie Barbosa opened the scoring in the second half for UT to drop the Mocs lead to 11-5, but the Mocs would answer with three straight goals, including two by Kerge that were assisted by Santoli and the other score was an unassisted goal by Santoli.
Amanda Rom and Barbosa would score back-to-back goals for the Spartans to pull within 14-7 with 13:21 left in the game.
The Mocs, though, would put the game out of reach as they scored five consecutive goals, including three straight goals from Kerge, to push its lead to 19-7 with 6:27 left in the game. Along with Kerge's three goals, the Mocs other two goals came from Meghan O'Brien and Shawfield.
With a running clock thanks the Mocs lead being over 10 goals, the Spartans would close the game by scoring three straight goals, including two from Carraway and the other goal coming from Allie Popelar with 19 seconds remaining.
Along with Kerge's eight goals, Robertson, Santoli, Meghan O'Brien and Shawfield each had two goals. UT was paced by four goals from Carraway.
The Mocs finished the game with a 41-20 edge in shots and also held a 32-16 advantage in shots on goal.
Kerge finished the game with a career high 13 shots, while Meghan O'Brien had seven in the win.
The Mocs defense was strong on Friday as well as they finished with 18 caused turnovers, including four from senior defender Rachael Griffith (Ellicott City, Md.), while senior defender Nicole Bellini (Winter Park, Fla.) and redshirt sophomore defender Parrisa Sakinejad (Millers, Md.) each had three in the victory. Griffith and Sakinejad each collected a team high three ground balls on the day.
Junior goalie Taylor Gillis (Bel Air, Md.) played the first half of the game and finished with one save, one ground ball and allowed four goals to improve to 10-2 on the season. Sophomore goalie Paige Brodbeck (Millersville, Md.) played the second half in goal and finished with five saves and allowed six goals.
UT goalie Caili Guilday played the all 60 minutes in goal for the Spartans as she finished with 14 saves, caused a turnover, picked up a ground ball and allowed 19 goals.
The Mocs also held an 18-12 edge in draw controls as Bursinger had a career high eight, while UT's Liz Kramer had six on the day.
FSC also finished 19-for-22 on clears and was 2-for-3 in free position shots, while UT was 15-for-19 on clears and went 0-for-2 in free position shots.
Sunday's championship game is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. and be a rematch of last year's inaugural SSC Championship tilt, a game that the Tars won, 12-10 in overtime. The Mocs, though, picked up a 15-6 win at Rollins in its regular season finale on April 21.
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