SAINT LEO, Fla. – All you need to know about Wednesday night's Saint Leo women's lacrosse Sunshine State Conference opener against the University of Tampa is this: for just over seven minutes midway through the second half, the Lions had more players with hat tricks than the Spartans had goals on the scoreboard.
As it was, Saint Leo sailed past visiting Tampa and hung a 15-5 loss on the Spartans at University Turf Stadium, to come away with a victory in the program's first-ever conference matchup.
Saint Leo improved to 7-4 overall, while Tampa fell to 5-9 overall, 0-2 in the SSC.
Three different players charted hat tricks for the Lions, led by sophomore midfielder Kelsey Burns with four goals. Senior middie Christina Minneci and senior attacker Alix Murray each finished with three goals.
Freshman midfielder Abbie Ross and sophomore attacker Emily Pittenger recorded two goals each for Saint Leo, with Ross scoring both her markers on free position attempts in the first half. Sophomore attacker Caroline Fraser notched the remaining Saint Leo goal.
Tampa's Amanda Voges, who came into Wednesday's game averaging 3.15 goals and 3.84 points through the Spartans' first 13 contests, was held to just two goals to headline Tampa's offensive efforts. Emilie Barbosa, Amanda Parker, and Mackenzie Perna each tallied single goals for the Spartans.
Six different Lions rattled off the game's first seven goals – all for Saint Leo – to vault the Green and Green into a 7-0 lead. Murray capped Saint Leo's opening seven-goal run with her free position goal at the 8:32 mark of the first half.
Voges ended Saint Leo's shutout bid under a minute later, scoring on a free position attempt of her own to cut the margin to 7-1. That would be all the scoring the Spartans would muster in the opening frame, while the Lions picked up goals from Minneci and Ross to head into the intermission with a 9-1 lead.
Saint Leo scored three quick goals to open the second half, including back-to-back scores by Burns, to extend its lead to 12-1 as the game clock passed under 20:00.
Parker got one of those goals back for Tampa at the 19:21 mark of the second half off an assist from Perna, trimming Saint Leo's lead to 12-2.
The two teams alternated scoring the next six goals over the remainder of the game.
Murray capped her hat trick, Saint Leo's third on the day, on an unassisted strike with 13:56 remaining, giving the Lions a 13-2 lead. That score held until the 6:29 mark of the frame, with Voges converted on a free position attempt.
Burns and Pittenger scored Saint Leo's final two goals, while Barbosa and Perna had the honors for Tampa.
Saint Leo outshot Tampa, 33-16, and had a 22-18 advantage in ground balls. Lions goalie Brittany Millsap finished with eight saves on the 13 shots on goal she faced, while the Spartans' Jaime Austin stopped 12 shots on goal out of the 27 taken by Saint Leo.
The Lions continue SSC play on Friday, April 3, when they travel to Winter Park, Fla., to face #10 Rollins College. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m.
For more information on the Saint Leo women's lacrosse program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.