Mocs Advance to National Championship Game, Defeat No. 4 Lindenwood in National Semifinals

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DENVER – Florida Southern continued to make history here Thursday afternoon as the third-ranked Moccasins used a nine goal first half en route to cruising to a 15-11 victory over fourth-ranked Lindenwood in the first of two national semifinal games in the NCAA Division II Women’s Lacrosse Championships at the Regency Athletic Complex on the campus of Metro State University. With the victory, the Mocs (18-3) advance to Saturday’s Division II National Championship game for the first time in school history and extend its school record win streak to 13 consecutive games. Thursday’s win for the Mocs came in it’s first-ever appearance in the national semifinals in the program’s five year history. Lindenwood, who was playing in its third straight national semifinal game, ends the season with a 17-3 record. “I could not be more proud of this team,” said Moccasin head coach Kara Reber following her team’s 18th victory of the season. “It was a full team effort and multiple players stepped up to play a huge role in today’s game.” The Mocs will now face two-time reigning Division II National Champion and top-ranked Adelphi (21-0) in the national championship game on Saturday, May 21 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Adelphi earned its third straight trip to the championship game following its 13-4 win over No. 2 ranked Le Moyne (18-3) in Thursday’s second national semifinal. Thursday’s game was also the second meeting this season between the two schools as the Mocs earned a 10-9 win in overtime in Lakeland on March 31 over the Lady Lions, which helped the Mocs avenge a double-overtime loss to Lindenwood in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament in St. Charles, Mo. In that game, Lindenwood defeated the Mocs, 14-13. Florida Southern’s victory was keyed by a school record tying seven free position goals and three goals apiece from sophomore attackers Meghan O’Brien (Rochester, N.Y.) and Shannon Gilfedder (Longwood, Fla.) and redshirt freshman midfielder Shannon Mazza (Kings Park, N.Y.). All three of Gilfedder’s goals came on free position shots. The seven free position goals tied the school record which was set against Gannon (Pa.) on March 1, 2015. Gilfedder’s three free position goals is tied for second most on the school’s single game chart. Florida Southern opened the scoring in Thursday’s national semifinal just 55 seconds into the contest on a goal by freshman attacker Casey O’Brien (Morris Plains, N.J.) to take a 1-0 lead. O’Brien has now scored seven goals over her last four games. FSC’s lead would grow to 2-0 on a goal by junior attacker Kendall Kerge (Edgewater, Md.) with 28:29 left in the first half. The goal by Kerge was her 53rd of the season and 100th of her collegiate career. The Mocs lead grew to 3-0 on a free position goal by Gilfedder with 24:23 left in the opening half.Lindenwood got on the scoreboard nearly seven minutes into the contest on an unassisted goal by Sophie Buelow. FSC pushed its lead to 4-1 a little over nine minutes into the game as Mazza took a pass from freshman attacker Dani Bursinger (Powell, Ohio) and found the goal for her 10th score of the year. Lindenwood, though, would pull within 4-2 on a goal by Allison Hurley with 19:34 left in the first half. FSC’s lead grew to 5-2 a little under 12 minutes into the game on a free position goal by Meghan O’Brien and Mazza would gave the Mocs a 6-2 lead with a little over 17 minutes into the game as she picked up a ball in front of the goal and put it in the net for her second goal of the game. The Lady Lions came right back on its next possession and used a goal by Jordyn Constance to pull within 6-3 and then used a free position goal from Morgan Judd to drop the Mocs lead to 6-4 with a 8:24 left in the first half. Gilfedder would stop the scoring run by the Lady Lions as she scored on a free position shot with 4:50 left in the first half to give the Mocs a 7-4 advantage and then Meghan O’Brien would score on another free position shot nearly a minute later to push the Mocs lead to 8-4. Bursinger would close the first half with a man-down goal with an assist from senior attacker Ashley Robertson (Ellicott City, Md.) with two seconds left to give the Mocs a 9-4 lead at the half. Lindenwood would open the second half with a goal by Amanda Schimpke just 30 seconds into the period to cut the Mocs lead to 9-5. The goal by Schimpke was her 100th career goal. The Mocs answered Schimpke’s goal as Gilfedder scored on a man-up goal off a free position shot with 26:27 left in the game. Gilfedder’s career-high tying third goal of the game gave the Mocs a 10-5 lead. Mazza’s third goal of the game off a free position shot with 24:18 remaining in the game gave the Mocs an 11-5 advantage. For Mazza, it was her first career three goal game. Lindenwood would answer Mazza’s score just 32 seconds later on a goal by Schimpke on a rebound from a shot from Rachel Benzing to pull within 11-6. Robertson gave the Mocs a 12-6 lead on her free position shot with 20:24 left in the game. LWU would add a goal by Judd with 16:54 left in the game to pull the Lady Lions within five at 12-7 and then added a free position goal by Sarah Cromer with 12:52 left to drop the Mocs lead to 12-8. FSC would stop a two-goal run by the Lady Lions with a score by redshirt junior attacker Allie Kryjak (Gaithersburg, Md.) to give the Mocs a 13-8 lead. Lindenwood came right back with a goal by Cassie Stucklen with 8:40 left to pull LWU within 13-9. The Mocs, though, answered with a goal by Meghan O’Brien with 7:40 remaining to give FSC a 14-9 lead. LWU’s Benzing brought the Lady Lions within 14-10 following her second goal of the game with 5:16 remaining in the contest. Benzing’s goal came as the Lady Lions were a man-down following a yellow card by Constance. The Mocs would cap its scoring with a goal by Kerge with 26 seconds left in the game and then Lindenwood capped the game’s scoring with a free position goal by Judd with 11 seconds remaining. For the game, the Mocs outshot the Lady Lions, 30-22 and were 7-for-12 on free position shots, while Lindenwood was 3-for-4 on free position attempts. Gilfedder was 3-for-3 on free position shots, while Meghan O’Brien was 2-for-2. The Mocs defense was also strong on Thursday as they caused 11 turnovers as Lindenwood had 18 turnovers for the game. The Mocs committed just 11 turnovers as eight of them were caused by the Lady Lions. Senior two-time All-American defender Gabby Barowski (Alexandria, Va.) paced the Moccasin defense with three caused turnovers and picked up five ground balls in the win. In addition to Barowski, sophomore midfielder Emily Santoli (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) had three ground balls and a team-high four draw controls. Lindenwood won the draw control battle over the Mocs, 16-11. Judd and Schimpke combined for five of Lindenwood’s 11 goals as Judd scored three times, including two free position goals and Schimpke added two goals for the Lady Lions. Erin Abbott and goalkeeper Rachel Ortell each picked up four ground balls for LWU in the loss. Otell also finished the game with nine saves in goal and added a caused turnover as she suffered her first loss of season and falls to 11-1 on the year. Moccasin junior goalkeeper Taylor Gillis (Bel Air, Md.) improved to 12-2 on the season as she recorded eight saves, two ground balls and caused a turnover in 60 minutes of action. Click here for video of the game.