LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College women's lacrosse exploded for five goals in a row late in the first half to help erase a two-goal deficit and started the second half with three-straight to earn a 19-12 victory over No. 9 Mercy on Saturday at Moccasin Field. The No. 1 Moccasins (8-0) found themselves in a rare early hole as the Mavericks (5-1) led by two goals midway through the first period of play.
However, back-to-back goals from Marina Jozokos and Meghan O'Brien brought the score back to 6-6 with 10:41 to go in the first. After Mercy went back ahead on a goal three minutes later, the Mocs poured it on with five-straight goals to end the half and never looked back en-route to their 23rd-straight regular-season victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern struck first when Dani Bursinger scored on a free-position shot with 24:01 to go in the first half, but the Mavericks quickly responded with a pair of goals to jump in front 2-1 with 15:51 on the clock. The Moccasins were able to tie things up shortly thereafter when O'Brien scored the first of her four goals at the 15:27 mark, but Mercy again answered with two-straight to make it 4-2.
• The Mocs would trail for nearly the remainder of the first half until a late scoring burst put them up for good. Down 7-6 with 7:34 to go in the opening half, Julia Couch started a 5-0 run when she found the back of the net at the 7:10 mark to tie things up. Shannon Mazza put FSC ahead by one (8-7) with 4:58 to go, and Emily Santoli scored two goals in a 15-second span to make it 10-7. Shannon Gilfedder would finish off the half with a goal at the 1:07 mark to give Florida Southern an 11-7 halftime lead.
• Florida Southern's positive momentum carried over into the second half as Sam Keesey, Couch, and Gilfedder each scored in the first five minutes to push the advantage to 14-7. The Mavericks would make things interesting with a 3-0 run to pull within four (14-10) with still 18:53 to play. Jozokos put home her third goal of the day to make it 15-10 with 15:50 to go, but Mercy again battled back with two goals in a row to get within three (15-12) at the 14:28 mark.
• It would not be enough, however, as the Mocs ended the contest with four-straight goals to pull away late and snag a 19-12 victory. O'Brien and Santoli combined to score three of FSC's final four goals to put the game out of reach.
• O'Brien and Santoli each scored four times, while Couch and Jozokos tallied three. O'Brien also recorded three assists, while Keesey had seven draw controls and Santoli tallied six. Jozokos had five ground balls and Mary Gately made five saves.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 2-0 all-time against Mercy. Prior to Saturday's game, the Mavericks and Mocs had not met since March 20, 2012, when Florida Southern earned a 9-8 victory at home. The Moccasins have not lost a regular-season game since a 14-11 setback at No. 5 Lindenwood on Feb. 26, 2017. The Mocs have won 19-straight home games dating back to last year.
• The Moccasins have won seven straight regular-season games against nationally-ranked opponents, including three this season.
• Florida Southern outshot the Mavericks 48-29, picked up 26 ground balls, and completed 16-of-18 clears. The Mocs also won 21-of-33 draw controls but went just 3-of-17 on free-position shots.
• The Mocs finish off an eight-game homestand when they face McKendree on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before opening up Sunshine State Conference action at Florida Tech on March 24.