Florida Tech Falls to Saint Leo in Inaugural Game

MELBOURNE, Fla. Florida Tech (0-1, 0-1 DSC) donned its crisp white uniform and laced up its cleats for its inaugural game Tuesday night against Saint Leo (1-0, 1-0 DSC) at Melbourne Central Catholic's Hustler Stadium. Although the final result was in favor of their DSC counterpart, 15-4, the Panthers gave spectators a brief glimpse of what the future could hold for FIT.

With a roster loaded with freshmen, first-year head coach Ryan McAleavey's team showed it wasn't intimidated by the established Lions. Just over seven minutes into the game, Patrick Manning scored the program's first goal at the 7:36 mark. Christian Isola gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead, which would last the remainder of the first quarter, with 4:40 left.

"From the opening whistle, we showed that were not intimidated by Saint Leo," McAleavey said. "Before the game started, I told our guys that they are going to be hooting and hollering. They're going to try to get into your mind and beat you psychologically. We had to focus on ourselves and we did a good job in that area. Going up two goals right away was a direct result of our guys staying focused."

Less than five minutes into the second quarter, Saint Leo tied the game at 2-2. From that point, its experience and depth were two of the driving factors behind the Lions taking the lead for good.

Billy McClellan found Danny Channell for FIT's third goal with 6:59 remaining in the game. The Panthers struck once more with 51 ticks on the clock as Mike Marshner found Andrew Conley, who sent a rocket past the Lions' goalie.

"We just didn't have enough legs out there," McAleavey said. "We did a lot of conditioning in the fall and preseason, but it just wasn't enough considering Saint Leo's depth."

The Panthers forced 20 turnovers and won nearly half of the faceoffs, 11 of 23. Of FIT's 27 shots, 16 were on target. Manning led the home team with five shots. Isola and Tyler Kunce each picked up three groundballs.

Despite facing an array of shots, Mason Cook made 14 saves and stopped several point-blank shots from Saint Leo's offensive attack.

FIT will travel to North Carolina for its first two road games. The Panthers will play at Lees-McRae on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and at Mars Hill on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. They will return to Hustler Stadium for a game with Tampa, another first-year program, Feb. 29 at 7:00 p.m.


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