Griffo Scores Four as Spartans Down Panthers

LAKELAND, Fla - Greg Griffo scored four goals, including the go ahead goal, as Tampa defeated Florida Tech 11-7 Wednesday night at Pepin Stadium. With the win the Spartans improve to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the Deep South Conference, while the Panthers fall to 2-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play.

The Spartans struck first as Trevor Calleja won the opening faceoff. On the ensuing possession, Brian Patton made a dodge down the left side of the field and netted his first goal of the season to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. Minutes later Joey McMahan would find Jake Schmidt cutting in front of the goal to extend Tampa's led to 2-0 with 9:47 remaining in the first quarter. Florida Tech responded scoring four straight goals to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead. In the final seconds of the first quarter, McMahan connected with Griffo for a goal and cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Spartans carried the momentum into the second quarter as McMahan found Schmidt for the equalizer. The score remained tied until the 3:47 mark, when Griffo scored back-to-back goals to give Tampa a 6-4 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, Florida Tech took advantage of a Spartans' penalty as Christian Isola found Alex Carlson for the man-up goal. Tampa extended their lead to 7-5 as Griffo's shot connected with the back of the cage. Minutes later, Riley Piper's big hit forced a Panthers turnover and set up Kyle Hemrick's unassisted goal. Tampa won the ensuing faceoff and Ryan Becker found McMahan for the goal to put the Spartans ahead 9-6 after the third quarter.

The two teams traded goals twice in the fourth quarter for the 11-7 final.

McMahan had a goal and three assists in the game, while Schmidt tallied two goals. Marty Heyn led the Spartans with three caused turnovers and three ground balls. Goalie Joseph Fiorucci made eight saves in the win.

The Spartans will return to action Saturday, February 23, when they travel to Saint Leo to face the Lions in a DSC match-up. Game time will be 7:00 p.m.

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TAMPA, Fla. Florida Tech responded with four unanswered goals in the first quarter after trailing Tampa 2-0 to begin the game, but the Spartans outscored the Panthers 5-3 in the second half for an 11-7 victory on Wednesday at Pepin Stadium.

"I think the biggest thing was the depth of the rosters," head coach Ryan McAleavey said. "Tampa's roster is almost double our size and they emptied their bench. Tampa is a good team and I don't want to take anything away from them, but we got tired and made mistakes in the second half."

Tampa (2-1, 2-0 DSC) opened with the game's first goal just 55 seconds into regulation. Then the Spartans extended their lead to 2-0 four minutes later.

Florida Tech (2-1, 2-1 DSC) cut the deficit in half 36 seconds later when the Panthers' leading scorer, freshman Brian Bacarella, picked up a groundball from a shot that hit the post and put it in the back of the net. One minute later, sophomore Andrew Conley tied the game. Conley ripped the shot from 20 yards out to tie the game at 2-2 with 8:01 left in the first.

With 5:45 remaining in the first, Conley rippled the net for a second time to give FIT its first lead of the game at 3-2.

Three minutes later, freshman Alex Carlson scored his fifth goal of the season on a pass from Conley to give the Panthers a two-goal lead. It was a man-up goal-FIT's fifth of the season. The Panthers scored four unanswered goals for the 4-2 lead.

"We have done that before where we have given up a lead and clawed our way back," McAleavey said. "The guys played hard."

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