LAKELAND - Florida Southern and Saint Leo closed out the 2016 regular season here Saturday afternoon with an instant classic as both teams battled each other for two overtimes before 20th-ranked Saint Leo ultimately prevailed 9-8 on a goal right before the buzzer by Justin Robinson in double overtime on Senior Day at Bryant Stadium.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Moccasins honored its five-member senior class in a pregame ceremony. The senior on this year's team are midfielder Del Donnelly (Cochrane, Alberta), midfielder Kyle McLaughlin (Woolrich Township, N.J.), midfielder Tyler Novak (Holbrook, N.Y.), midfielder Jonny Riley (Murrysville, Pa.), and goalie Daniel Rivas (Baldwin, N.Y.).
Click here for photos from Saturday's Men's Lacrosse Senior Day Recognition
Robinson's goal helped the Lions improve to 9-4 overall and 2-3 in the SSC, while dropped the Mocs record to 9-8 overall and 2-3 in the SSC. The game marked the Mocs second straight double overtime game as they picked up an 11-10 win last Saturday with a goal by sophomore midfielder Cody Gray (Riverview, Fla.) with 56 seconds left in double overtime.
With Saturday's loss and Lynn's 10-6 win Saturday afternoon at Florida Tech, the Mocs earned the No. 4 seed in next week's SSC Tournament and will face No. 1 seed and sixth-ranked Tampa (12-2, 5-0 SSC) in the semifinal round on Friday, April 29 at UT's Naimoli Family Athletic Complex. In the other SSC Tournament semifinal game, No. 2 seeded Rollins (9-5, 3-2 SSC) will meet No. 3 seeded Saint Leo. Game times will announced in the coming days by the SSC office.
It appeared like Saturday's game would be going to third overtime period after a shot by SLU's Chad Marino was wide and on the ensuing play, Robinson took a pass from Dylan Yonts and found some daylight and launch a shot that just got by Moccasin junior goalie Matt Lalli (New Milford, Conn.) for the game winning goal.
Early on in the game it looked like double overtime wouldn't be needed as Saint Leo scored five first quarter goals and led 6-2 at the half. The Mocs, though, would rally to score two goals in the third quarter and then scored four goals in the fourth quarter and held an 8-7 lead until SLU's Joe Donnian scored with 2:27 left in regulation to tie the game.
After the Lions tied the game, the Mocs had two shots in a span of 20 seconds to take the lead, including a shot on goal by junior attacker Cody Dyer (Slingerlands, N.Y.) with 31 seconds left that was saved by Lions goalie Dave Moore. Moore finished the game with 11 saves and a team high six ground balls in 68 minutes of action between the pipes.
After Dyer's shot, the Lions came down the field and Marino's shot with two seconds left was saved by Lalli to send the contest into overtime. Lalli, who is the reigning SSC and USILA/Lids Team Sports National Defensive Player of the Week, finished with 19 saves, added five ground balls and a caused turnover.
In the first overtime period, the teams combined for three shot, including a potential game winning shot attempt from sophomore midfielder Lucas Claude (Calgary, Alberta) with 2:38 left in the period. Claude's shot was one of three on goal in the period as Lalli made two saves in the period on SLU's shots on goal.
Trailing 6-2 at the half, the Mocs began their comeback late in the third quarter as freshman attacker Kyle Silverstein (Smithtown, N.Y.) scored an unassisted goal with 1:15 left in the quarter to cut the Lions lead to 6-3. About 38 seconds later, the Mocs used a goal by Gray off a pass from Dyer to pull within 6-4 heading into the final quarter.
Dyer would bring the Mocs within a goal following his score just 47 seconds into the fourth quarter and then freshman midfielder Nick Gutmann (Long Island, N.Y.) took advantage of a man-up opportunity to score his 16th goal of the season to tie the game at 6 with 13:45 left in regulation.
The Mocs would take its first lead of the game on a goal by Dyer with 12:25 remaining and would push its lead out to 8-6 on an unassisted goal by Silverstein with 4:15 left in the regulation.
SLU, though, would fight back as 25 seconds after Silverstein's goal, Jake Gilmour scored his second goal of the game to push the Lions within a one at 8-7 with 3:50 remaining in regulation. The Lions would then tie the game up 83 seconds later Donnian's goal which came off an assist by Robinson.
The Lions got the game's scoring started just 50 seconds into the contest on an unassisted goal by Robinson. FSC would answer about three minutes later as Dyer scored an unassisted goal to tie the game.
From that point, the rest of the opening quarter belonged to the Lions as they scored four straight goals over the final eight minutes of the quarter, including capping the period with a goal from Donnian with five seconds left to give SLU a 5-1 advantage after 15 minutes of action.
Claude would stop the Lions run of goals as he took a pass from Gutmann and found the net nearly two minutes into the second quarter to bring the Mocs within three goals at 5-2.
Gilmour, though, would give the Lions some momentum heading into halftime as he used an unassisted goal with 2:10 left in the quarter to give the Lions a 6-2 halftime lead.
For the game, the Mocs were outshot, 47-31 and the Lions also won the ground ball battle, 31-24.
Dyer led the way for the Mocs with three goals and a team-high seven shots, while Silverstein added two goals in the loss.
The Lions defense held Moccasin junior attacker Tyler Kopen (Wynnewood, Pa.) without a goal to snap his streak of scoring a goal at 13 consecutive games. Kopen entered the game having scored 33 goals, which is second-most on the squad.
Novak led the Mocs in ground balls with six and push his career total to 201 ground balls, which is just 22 ground balls shy of the school's career record of 223 held by Dan Krispinsky (2011-14).
One area that the Mocs improved upon from its game last Saturday at Lynn was on face-offs as the Mocs finished the game 12-for-21 on face-offs, all of which were attempted on Saturday by freshman midfielder Joseph Biondi, Jr. (Orange, Conn.). SLU was 9-for-21 on face-offs on the day, but just 4-for-12 after the first half. The Mocs went 8-for-12 after halftime on face-offs.
Donnian led the way for the Lions with three goals, while Gilmour and Robinson each had two for the Lions. In addition, those three players combined to take 17 of SLU's 47 shots.
The Moccasin defense held Yonts, who entered the game with 48 goals, without a goal in the game. Yonts took 10 shots in the game, including seven shots on goal, but was held without a goal for the first time this season.