LAKELAND - Florida Southern used a seven goal second quarter here Saturday evening en route to posting a 12-5 victory over Florida Tech in the Sunshine State Conference opener for both teams at Bryant Stadium.
The start of Saturday's game was delayed 35 minutes due to lightning in the Lakeland area about 90 minutes prior to the schedule start of the game. The game was originally scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
With the victory, the Moccasins (8-5, 1-0 SSC) extend its win streak to three straight games and open SSC play with a win for the first time since 2014, while Florida Tech fell to 5-4 overall and 0-1 in the SSC.
"This was a giant win for us. I think it means everything for our guys to start off conference play with a win," Moccasin head coach Marty Ward said following Saturday's win. "Florida Tech was picked second in the preseason poll and for us to come out and play them as tough as we did and control the game the way we did, I thought that showed our team's maturity level and how we're starting to play the game the right way."
After the two teams managed just a goal apiece in the first quarter, including sophomore midfielder Lucas Claude (Calgary, Alberta) finding the net just 47 seconds into the game. FIT's first goal came from Logan Sweeney with 6:55 left in the quarter.
The Mocs would put the game out of reach in the second quarter as they scored seven goals on 13 shots to push out to an 8-1 lead at the half.
"We knew in the first quarter we weren't generating many good looks as we wanted at the net, so we switched it up a bit and it clicked for the guys," said Ward. "They seemed to play really well in that offensive set that we switched too, but it helps when our defense was clicking like it was. Everything seemed to click for us tonight."
Freshman attacker Kyle Silverstein (Smithtown, N.Y.) got the scoring started on an unassisted goal just 90 seconds into the quarter and nearly a minute later, sophomore midfielder Cody Gray (Riverview, Fla.) scored an unassisted goal to give the Mocs a 3-1 lead.
Three of the seven goals in the quarter were scored by junior attacker Tyler Kopen (Wynnewood, Pa.), who finished with a game-high four goals in the win. Two of Kopen's three goals in the quarter came on man-up chances.
The other goals in the second quarter for the Mocs came from Claude and freshman midfielder Nick Gutmann (Long Island, N.Y.). Gutmann's goal came off a pass from Claude, who finished with three assists on the night.
FIT would open the third quarter with an unassisted goal by Brian Bacarella to pull within 8-2.
Junior attacker Cody Dyer (Slingerlands, N.Y.) would find the net for his 25th goal of the season with 7:56 left in the quarter to make the score, 9-2.
The Panthers closed the third quarter with a goal from Austen Zugelter and then opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back goals by Cody Martin to drop the Mocs lead to 9-5.
That would be as close as the Panthers would get as the Mocs would add three goals in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, including unassisted goals by Kopen and Claude. The other goal was scored by Gutmann.
In addition to Kopen's four goals, Claude added three goals to his three assists for six points, while Gutmann had two goals on the night.
The Mocs finished with a 41-28 edge in shots, including nine shots each from Claude and Dyer.
FSC also had a 20-13 edge in shots on goal.
Freshman Joseph Biondi, Jr. (Orange, Conn.) continued his strong play on faceoffs as he finished the night going 12-for-20 on faceoffs and picked up four ground balls. FSC had 30 ground balls in the win, including a career-high tying five by Claude.
Neither team was strong on man-up chances in the game as FSC was 3-for-9, while FIt went 0-for-3.
Martin had two goals and eight shots to pace the Panthers, while Travis Wunder and Ryan Land each went 4-for-10 on faceoffs.
Junior goalie Matt Lalli (New Milford, Conn.) played all 60 minutes in goal and recorded eight saves, had two ground balls and allowed five goals.
Christian Koch (3-4) took the loss in goal for the Panthers as he allowed 12 goals, while collecting eight saves, picking up a ground ball and causing a turnover.
The Mocs will return to action this coming Friday, April 1 as they travel to Tampa to face the fourth-ranked University of Tampa Spartans in an 8 p.m. game.
"Tampa is our rival down the road and we haven't beat them in conference play yet," the Moccasin coach added. "UT is a real good team that is athletic and always prepares well for teams. We know they'll be prepared for us on Friday."