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Florida Southern celebrates

Florida Southern Survives Opening Round Scare in WD2 South Region

May 16, 2024
Paul Ohanian
Michael Gallagher

On a day when all four top seeds advanced in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Division II tournament, it was one of the number four seeds, Flagler, that nearly stole the show.

The Saints pushed the South Region’s top seed, Florida Southern, to the brink of elimination before falling in overtime, 16-15. All-American Jackie Stoller netted the game winner for FSC on a feed from Abby McFerren, 3:50 into overtime, to help the Mocs advance to Saturday’s regional final.

“I just got a step on my defender, who guarded me pretty tightly all day, and cut toward Abby and she made a great feed,” said Stoller, who finished with a team-high four goals.

The tightly contested game was easily the most entertaining match-up involving the top-seeded teams, with Flagler playing the Mocs toe-to-toe in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

Trailing 15-12 midway through the fourth quarter, Flagler scored the final three goals of regulation to force the extra session, with Lexie Morton tallying the equalizer on a quick stick score with 2:32 left.

In overtime, both goalies – FSC’s McKenzie Gaghan and Flagler’s Lauren Ribadeneira – made huge saves in the first three-minute session, setting the stage for Stoller’s heroics. FSC controlled the draw to start the second extra session and converted on its first possession, with Stoller netting her 77th goal of the year.

“You really can’t ask for more than a game like that,” said Flagler coach Grant Kelam. “We’ll let this one hurt a little bit, but we’ll wake up tomorrow and start again.”

Florida Southern (16-4) now faces Tampa in Saturday’s South Region final. The second-seeded Spartans advanced by defeating No. 3 seed Lynn, 11-10, in a game that was also close throughout.

The game featured six ties and five lead changes, with neither team leading by more than two goals at any point. Trailing by one in the final minute with possession, Lynn’s final shot was stopped by Tampa goalie Alex Walling (8 saves) as time expired.

Junior midfielder Sophi Wrisk was the offensive hero for Tampa (16-3), finishing with a season-high six goals, including four in the first half.

A brief recap of opening round action from the other three regions of the Division II tournament is below.

Atlantic Region

(1) West Chester 19, (4) Seton Hill 3

Host West Chester made quick work of No. 4 seed Seton Hill, scoring the first 10 goals of the game and never looking back to easily advance to Saturday’s regional final. Midfielder Sydney Wasdick scored a career-high eight goals to lead the Golden Rams, while All-American Hannah Stanislawczyk added five goals and tied the school-record for career goals with 299. Stanislawczyk needs one goal in Saturday’s regional final to become just the fourth player in NCAA Division II history to reach the 300-goal plateau. WCU outshot Seton Hill 42-14 and forced 21 SHU turnovers.

(3) East Stroudsburg 11, (2) Kutztown 7

In the fourth meeting of the year and the third meeting in 13 days between these PSAC foes, All-American midfielder Emily Mitarotonda scored five goals and junior goalie Abby Simonetti made 18 saves to lead ESU back to the regional final for the fifth straight year. The Warriors improved to 6-1 in NCAA tournament opening round games. In the last three games against Kutztown, Simonetti has registered 55 saves while Mitarotonda has tallied 11 goals. The senior also raised her career total to 307 goals, third most in NCAA Division II history.

East Region

(1) Pace 17, (4) Bentley 10

Defending national champion Pace jumped to an early 7-1 lead and then withstood a second half challenge from Bentley to successfully begin its quest for a second straight championship.

Trailing by six just before halftime, Bentley scored four straight goals to pull to within three, at 12-9, heading into the final quarter. Pace stopped the run on an extra-man goal by Nikki Mottes early in the final period, and finished by scoring five of the game’s last six goals to defeat NE10 rival Bentley for the third time this year. All-American Angelina Porcello and Sydney Juvelier led Pace (21-0) with four goals each.

(2) Adelphi 18, (3) New Haven 6 

Freshman Ashley Kolomechuk scored a game-high five goals and Kerrin Heuser added four to lead Adelphi to its third win over New Haven this season. The Panthers have dominated the rivalry against New Haven, improving to 31-2 all-time against the Chargers. Eight different players scored for Adelphi (17-3), while the defense limited an opponent to single-digit goals for the 12th time this year.

Midwest Region

(1) Maryville 16, (4) UIndy 9 

Maryville has lost just four games since the start of the 2023 season, and all of them have come against GLVC rival UIndy. Two of those losses were in last year’s NCAA opening round and this year’s GLVC championship game, Evidently, the Saints were tired of that result.

Four goals apiece from Jessie Hynes and Chloe Elliott helped lead Maryville (18-1) to its first-ever NCAA tournament win and re-write some of the history against its rival. Maryville never trailed in Thursday’s game, leading by no less than four goals throughout the second half. The Saints sealed the win by scoring the final three goals over the last 6:46 of the content.

(3) Regis 13, (2) Grand Valley State 12 (ot) 

The third time proved to be the charm for Regis. After losing to GVSU in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in each of the past two years, the Rangers finally levied a bit of revenge, but it wasn’t easy. Maggie Schipfer tallied her fifth goal of the game on the first possession of overtime to lead Regis to the victory.

Trailing by four goals with 12 minutes remaining, GVSU rallied to force overtime, tying the score at 12-12 with nine seconds left in regulation on Sydney Stone’s free position goal, her third score of the contest. But Regis won the draw control to start overtime and Schipfer scored the game winner 51 seconds into the extra period on a 1-v-1 dodge from the top of the arc.

"Maggie is an incredible team player and she loves this team. She loves being competitive and put in a lot of work during the offseason to play at this level," said head coach Sarah Kellner said. "And Maggie plays her best lacrosse when she's having fun. She was the one out there reminding everyone to have fun and play together."

Regis (19-1) extended its winning streak to 15 games and now has a chance to avenge its only loss of the season in Saturday’s regional final against Maryville.

Second Round Games (Saturday, May 18)

Game times are Eastern time

West Chester (20-0) vs East Stroudsburg (13-6) -- Atlantic Region final, 12 p.m.
Pace (21-0) vs. Adelphi (17-3) -- East Region final, 12 p.m.
Florida Southern (16-4) vs. Tampa (16-3) -- South Region final, 12 p.m.
Maryville (18-1) vs. Regis (19-1) -- Midwest Region final, 1 p.m.