Since that afternoon in Annapolis 11 years ago when Northwestern won its first national championship with a 13-10 win over Virginia, the women’s lacrosse intelligentsia has been expecting more national championship contenders from non-traditional areas of the United States.
One of those non-traditional areas which has been the subject of such expectations is Florida. The number of scholastic teams playing in the Sunshine State, as well as the quality of players being prepped there, has resulted in a number of colleges beginning teams.
Last weekend, in the Division II Championship Festival in Colorado, Florida Southern College, an institution of about 2,200 students located in Lakeland, Fla., beat seven-time Division II champion Adelphi by a score of 8-7.
Looking at the championship resumes of both teams, the comparison should have been between chalk and cheese. Adelphi came into Saturday’s final 7-for-7 in NCAA finals, while Florida Southern was playing in only its fourth NCAA tournament game.
The Mocs, as you might expect from a collegiate lacrosse team in Florida, are your usual combination of players from traditional areas of the country with a lot of interesting stories and names woven throughout. The are only three Floridians on the roster, but plenty of players from top programs across the U.S. including Severna Park (Md.), Annapolis (Md.), Marriottsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.), West Babylon (N.Y.), and Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.).
But Florida Southern has an even more interesting story on the touchline. Head coach Kara Reber, while hailing from lacrosse country in New York, was a soccer and ice hockey player at Bowling Green.
She made the transition into lacrosse coaching, finding mild success teams at Lycoming and St. Mary’s College, but she has found a true home at Florida Southern. Last year, she brought the Moccasins to within a game of the national semifinals thanks to senior All-Americans Caitlin Chase, Megan Asper, and Lorianne Hoover, all of whom dominated the team’s scoring charts.
This year, their replacements did extremely well sharing the ball. Leading point-getter Meghan O’Brien is a sophomore, and she had more assists (37) than goals (35). Emily Santoli (35 goals, 32 assists) is also a sophomore, and leading goal-scorer Kendall Kerge (57) is just a junior. Only Ashley Robertson (43 goals) graduates from the attacking third for Florida Southern.
A hearty “Well-played!” from this corner.