MELBOURNE, Fla. – The Florida Southern men's lacrosse team surrendered an early lead as No. 15 Florida Tech stormed from behind to earn an 11-7 victory Saturday night at Palm Bay High School's Pirate Stadium.
The Panthers (11-2, 3-1 SSC) scored seven of the game's nine second-half goals to overcome a 5-4 halftime deficit. With freshman Joe Caridi (Holbrook, N.Y.) in the penalty box serving a two-and-a-half minute unreleasable penalty in the third quarter, Zach Wynne scored the tying goal and Andrew Conley gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Leading 7-6, Florida Tech went on a four-goal run in the fourth quarter to build an insurmountable lead.
Freshman Lucas Claude (Calgary, Alberta) added a last-minute score for the Mocs' seventh goal.
FSC (6-8, 2-3 SSC) controlled its own Sunshine State Conference Tournament destiny, and with a win over the Panthers, would have been guaranteed a spot in the postseason. Now it must wait until the conclusion of the Lynn-Saint Leo matchup on Saturday, April 18 to see if its season will continue.
Currently, Florida Southern and Rollins hold the final two seeds, but the winner between the Fighting Knights and the Lions will join the Tars and Mocs in a three-way tie with a 2-3 league record. A Saint Leo win would give the Mocs the third seed and the Lions the fourth seed. However, a Lynn victory would eliminate FSC, giving Rollins the third seed and Lynn the final spot in the tournament.
The Mocs scored the first three goals of the game to take the early lead. Sophomore Ryan Wright (Jamesville, N.Y.) scored the game's first goal at the 4:24 mark in the first quarter. Senior Dane Sorensen (Victoria, B.C.) fired a shot out of a cannon from the top of the top of the circle to put FSC ahead 2-0.
Freshman Cody Gray (Riverview, Fla.) tacked on the Mocs' third goal while falling down in front of the crease at 12:08 in the second quarter.
Sophomore goaltender Matt Lalli (New Milford, Conn.) turned in a great performance to pitch the first-quarter shutout. He denied the Panthers on multiple open looks throughout, including a tremendous stick-side stop with 1:14 to go in the first quarter. He finished with 14 saves in the losing effort.
The Panthers got on the board with a sneaky backhand goal from Charlie Morrisette from the right-wing side. With his back turned to the net, Morrisette released the underhand shot, which squeaked by Lalli short-side to make it 3-1 in favor of the Mocs.
Up 3-2, Sorensen went one-on-one with Panthers defenseman Tom Filipow. The Moccasin senior backed his way towards the net and then spun off of Filipow, giving him enough separation to release the shot, putting the Mocs up by two.
The Panthers scored two straight 1:03 apart to knot the game at 4-all, but Caridi gave the Mocs a 5-4 lead going into the half.
While the Panthers used the unreleasable infraction to spark its comeback, FSC went 0-for-3 on its extra-man opportunities, all in the first half.
Sorensen was the only Mocs to finish with multiple points with his two goals, and now has a Division II-leading 48 on the season. He also caused three turnovers and picked up six ground balls. Senior Trenell Boggans (Syracuse, N.Y.) caused a team-leading four turnovers and collected a game-high nine loosies.
Florida Southern now eagerly awaits next weekend's Lynn-Saint Leo contest to determine its postseason fate.