WINTER PARK, Fla. – It was a historic day for the Saint Leo women's lacrosse team as the Lions stepped out onto the field in NCAA Division II action for the first time in program history. Squaring off against the eighth-ranked Rollins College Tars (1-0) at Cahall-Sandspur Field in Winter Park, Fla., the Lions (0-1) found themselves at the bottom end of a 23-7 final score on Saturday evening.
It was not only a momentous day for the Saint Leo community, but for the sport of women's lacrosse and Division II, as the contest marked the first ever contest between two NCAA DII varsity women's lacrosse programs in the state of Florida.
Sophomore attackman Stephanie Marran notched a hat trick to lead the Lions in their opening game, scoring the program's first ever goal just under two minutes into the contest. Christina Minneci tallied two goals of her own, while Joanna Chadwick and Alix Murray notched one apiece. Chadwick added an assist to her goal for two points on the evening.
Both goalies saw time between the pipes, with Brittany Millsap registering 10 saves on the evening in 53 minutes of action. Nicole Sirota-Plotnikov closed out the final seven minutes of the game in cage, but did not have an opportunity to earn a save.
The Tars were led in goals by Sarah Ann Showell with four, but senior Cat Kelley tallied a game-high eight points with three goals and five assists on the evening.
Rollins scored early, finding the back of the net 30 seconds in for the first goal of the evening. The Lions answered right back, however, as Marran raced to the cage and scored the first goal in program history with 28:19 on the clock in the first half, knotting the score at 1-1.
Rollins rattled off two straight goals thanks to attacker Sarah Ann Showell, but a goal from Minneci off of a Chadwick assist at the 21:43 mark left the Lions down by one with a score of 3-2. The Tars extended their advantage with two more goals, pulling ahead to 5-2, but Chadwick closed the gap with a goal at the 18:22 mark to set the score at 5-3.
The Lions held the Tars off the scoreboard for the ensuing five minutes, until a Kelley goal off of an assist from Sophie Townsend put Saint Leo down by three with 13:26 to go before the break.
Rollins scored three more, pulling out to a 9-3 lead, before Marran could find the back of the net again for Saint Leo, setting the scoreboard at 9-4 with 7:57 on the clock. The Tars rattled-off six straight before Minneci broke up the run with a goal a minute before halftime, but the Tars answered back with one last score before the break, setting the score at 16-5 at the half.
Saint Leo saw two more goals in the second half as Marran and Chadwick placed shots between the pipes, but the Tars outscored the Lions 7-2 in the final stanza to secure the victory.
Rollins led the shot count 43-14, and found more success of the draw as they won 23-of-31 attempts. Saint Leo trailed by just six on the ground ball count, with the Tars finding the edge, 26-20 in the ground ball battle. The Lions were successful on one-of-three free-position shots, but shut down the Tars at the arc, holding them to just two goals on seven shots from the eight meter.
The Lions return to action in another historic matchup as they take to the field in their first ever home game. Saint Leo hosts Lindenwood University on Friday, February 17, on the University Campus. First draw at University Field will take place at 7 p.m. For the latest news, updates, and information on the inaugural season of the Saint Leo women's lacrosse team, visit Saintleolions.com.