LAKELAND, Fla. – For the first time in three years, the Saint Leo men’s lacrosse team will not defend its back-to-back Deep South Conference Championships as the 2011 Lions made a semifinal round exit following a 12-4 loss to Florida Southern at Bryant Stadium on Thursday evening.
The host Moccasins (8-6) struck first as Ike Hopper’s shot got past the SLU goalie just two minutes into the game. Similar to their regular-season meeting less than a week ago, Florida Southern continued the hot-start over the Lions when A.J. Monteleone scored back-to-back goals to extend the Mocs lead to 3-0.
Minutes later another shot, this time by Chris Murphy found the back of the cage to give the Mocs a 4-0 lead. The Moccasins added two more goals to take a 6-0 advantage after the first quarter.
With the game slipping away for the Lions, Mat Thompson scored an unassisted goal to put the Mocs ahead 7-0 with 9:41 left in the second quarter.
Saint Leo (5-7) got on the board in the final seconds of the half as Rob Van Bomel scored to cut the lead to 7-1.
In the third quarter, Hopper found Corey Brown for a man-up goal, to give the Mocs an 8-1 advantage. The Lions answered with another goal from Van Bomel to pull the Lions within six.
Just over two minutes into the fourth quarter Jon Freda found Kevin Naslonski for a goal. The Lions would score two of the next three goals, with tallies from Van Bomel and Alex Monteferrante to cut the lead to 10-4 before the Mocs responded with back-to-back goals from Thompson for the 12-4 final.
The loss puts the wraps on the 2011 season for the Lions while Florida Southern advances to its first-ever Deep South Conference Championship Game, where they will face Catawba College. The game will take place on Sunday afternoon at University Field on the Saint Leo University campus.