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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | February 16, 2018

No. 1 Adelphi, No. 2 Florida Southern meet in third chapter of rivalry

Adelphi and Florida Southern sure have brewed up a nice rivalry in Division II women’s lacrosse. The third chapter is set to begin Saturday, Feb. 17 when the defending champion Adelphi Panthers open their season on the road in Lakeland, Fla.

RANKINGS: Complete IWLCA Coaches Preseason Top 25

That pits the No. 1 team against the No. 2 team in the country on the second weekend of the season. But that’s not the only top action this weekend.

No. 1 Adelphi at No. 2 Florida Southern

In 2016, Adelphi and Florida Southern squared off in Denver, Colo. for the national championship. Florida Southern rose victorious 8-7, becoming the first team outside of the northeast to win a title. A year later, the two met again, this time in Bloomsburg, Pa. for the 2017 national championship. That time Adelphi came out on top, claiming its eighth title.

Now the two are set to kick off the 2018 season with a bang. Florida Southern already has a victory under its belt, dismantling Catawba 24-6 in its season opener last weekend. Seven Mocs scored multiple goals with Emily Santoli leading the charge with four. Santoli, the reigning midfielder of the year, leads a large group of returners, including three other All-Americans in Meghan O’Brien, Dani Bursinger and Meghan Vadala.

Adelphi is, well, Adelphi. Ranked No. 1, the Panthers are projected to win a Northeast-10 conference that has five teams in the preseason rankings. Unlike the Mocs, Adelphi is missing a few big pieces from the past few seasons as Jacqueline Jahelka, Ryley Weber and Katie Beier are all gone.

But the well is always deep in Garden City, N.Y., and they still return plenty of firepower. Half of the top scorers from the ’17 championship squad return, as NE-10 Rookie of the Year Alison Johnson, Kole Pollock and Michelle Scannell combined for 125 goals and 86 assists last season. While they lost Ryley Weber on the back line, the Panthers replace her with her sister Shea Weber, an All-American herself.

This will be the fifth time the two have met over the past three years. Adelphi holds the upper hand, winning three of those matches by a combined score of 41-27. The fact that Florida Southern ended Adelphi’s perfect season in the 2016 championship, however, makes this a rivalry to watch on an annual basis.

What else to watch

Adelphi and Florida Southern isn't the only rematch from last season's playoffs going down this weekend. Another top 10 showdown in St. Charles, Mo. pits a rematch of the 2017 national quarterfinals.

No. 7 Queens (NC) heads to Harlen C. Hunter Stadium to face No. 3 Lindenwood with its highest preseason ranking in its South Atlantic Conference era. Projected to win the SAC, it's safe to say expectations are high in Charlotte. The Royals put together a 17-4 campaign in 2017, that came to an end against Lindenwood in the quarterfinals. Queens returns its top two scorers from a year ago as Hanna Scott (77 points) and Ally Blood (42 points) both earned All-SAC Preseason honors.

Lindenwood already has a Top 25 win under its belt. The Lions downed No. 24 Indianapolis 11-7 in its 2018 opener a week ago. Sixteen players return from its run to the national semifinals a year ago. That includes second-leading scorer Sophie Buelow (48 goals, 15 assists), who leads a core group of experienced seniors like Allison Hurley, Cassie Stucklen and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year Rachel Ortell. 

Speaking of the RMAC, No. 22 Colorado Mesa kicks off its season against Fort Lewis on Saturday. The Mavericks are coming off a 13-4 season that ended at the hands of Regis in the semifinals of the RMAC Tournament. While there is plenty exciting to watch on Colorado Mesa's roster, Lindsi Peters makes her return to the lacrosse field. Last week at NCAA.com, Peters shared her inspirational story of how see ran from California to New York this summer for 4K for Cancer.