Just in case there was any doubt that No. 5 Limestone was the team to beat in Conference Carolinas – not to mention a force to be reckoned with nationally – the Saints showed their might on Saturday in their conference and season opener.

Sophomore midfielder Brittany Howard scored four goals and added an assist, top returning scorers Raquel Prager and Chelsea Treat added three goals apiece, and a total of 11 different players scored as the Saints demolished Erskine, 21-0, on Saturday at Saionts Field in Gaffney, S.C.

The Saints – who went 18-2 a year ago – scored 11 goals in the first 15 minutes of play, with Prager’s hat trick accounting for three of Limestone’s first five goals. She was assisted on the first goal by Treat, who completed her own hat trick before halftime by scoring the Saints’ seventh, ninth and 11th goals.

Limestone was equally dominant at the defensive end, limiting the Flying Fleet to five shot attempts, four of which were on goal. Of those, sophomore goaltender Rashelle McLellan stopped three to pick up the win, while junior Brigid Milchling made one save while playing the second half.

Erskine did show more fight in the second half, winning eight of 11 faceoffs, paced by midfielder Sarah Tibbits, who won eight of her 10 draws on the day.

The Saints will look to show similar dominance this coming Saturday, when they travel to Laurinburg, N.C., to take on St. Andrews Presbyterian in another Conference Carolinas battle.

NEED TO KNOW

•  Loyola University freshman Marlee Paton made an impact in her first collegiate game. The native of Seaholme, Australia, scored four goals to lead the No. 12 Greyhounds to a 15-8 win over No. 7 Virginia in the season opener for both teams. The Cavaliers trailed 6-5 with 7:58 left in the first half, but the Greyhounds scored seven of the next eight goals, including two of Paton’s four tallies, to put the game out of reach. "We came out to play against a tough Virginia side and we played our brand of lacrosse," Greyhounds head coach Jen Adams said. "We still have 15 other games. This is just a starting point." The Greyhounds will have a two-week layoff before their next game, against No. 15 Towson, on March 5.

•  Defending Division III champion Salisbury opened up its season with an emphatic win on Saturday, giving new Capital Athletic Conference rival Frostburg State a very frosty welcome to the neighborhood. Senior attacker Trish DiGirolomo posted a hat trick and added four assists, three other players added hat tricks of their own, and the reigning champs defeated the host Bobcats, 21-4. Senior midfielder Aileen McCausland, junior midfielder Allie Wheatley and sophomore attacker Roxanne Raab scored three goals apiece, while senior attacker Logan Bilderback had two goals and three helpers for the Sea Gulls, who travel to Lancaster, Pa. on Saturday to face Elizabethtown, then return to Salisbury for their home opener a week from Wednesday against Adrian.

•  Ranked No. 13 in the IWLCA’s Division I preseason poll, Stanford has proven to cause bad luck for the opposition in the early part of the season. After defeating No. 10 Notre Dame in its season opener last weekend, the Cardinal ran roughshod over Fresno State in a midweek game (a 21-4 victory), and added preseason No. 5 Syracuse to its list of victims on Sunday. The Cardinal jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and held a 7-4 advantage at halftime, then held off the Orange’s second-half push to hold on for an 11-10 victory. Senior midfielder Lauren Schmidt had a standout game for the Cardinal, leading the way with two goals and three assists, while junior midfielder Emilie Boeri had two goals and a pair of helpers as well. The Cardinal will next match wits and sticks with Harvard, which comes to town on Friday.

QUICK HITS

•  New Division I program High Point scored its first win in program history on Sunday with a 15-7 win over Cincinnati at Vert Stadium. It was a Cincinnati native, freshman midfielder Sara Kuhlman, who did the most damage for the Panthers, scoring five goals to lead High Point, with Alexis Goldman chipping in with four goals and two assists for HPU, which hits the road for the first time with a game at Navy on Feb. 27 in Annapolis.

•  Defending NCAA Champion Maryland turned in a phenomenal defensive effort on Sunday, holding an opponent under three goals for the first time since 2003 in a 13-2 victory over No. 16 Penn State. After falling behind, 2-1, to begin the game, the top-ranked Terrapins held the Nittany Lions without a score for nearly 51 minutes of play, as Sarah Mollison, Katie Schwarzmann and Kristy Black all recorded hat tricks to pace the Maryland offensive effort.

•  No. 2 Northwestern opened its 2011 campaign with a 14-11 win over No. 10 Notre Dame. Sophomore Erin Fitzgerald led the Wildcats with a hat trick, while junior Shannon Smith had a goal and three assists.

•  A brand new team will hit the field for the first time this weekend, as fledgling Division II program Mesa State heads out to St. Charles, Missouri. Part of the brand new Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, the Mavericks will play three games in three days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as they prepare to begin WILA play in mid-March against conference foes Adams State, Fort Lewis and Regis.

•  It was all about 11s for Johns Hopkins on Sunday, as the Blue Jays opened their 2011 season in winning fashion against George Mason. Eleven different players scored goals for Hopkins (including freshman Taylor D’Amore, who scored five) in a 19-9 win over the Patriots. It was the 11th time under head coach Janine Tucker that the Blue Jays began their season with a win.