Fast Start Pushes Spartans by Saint Leo into Title Game

Tampa, Fla -The University of Tampa scored a program-record six first quarter goals en route to an 18-8 win over Saint Leo in the Deep South Conference semifinals Thursday night at the Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex. With the win Tampa advance to the program's first DSC Championship game Sunday, when they will face Catawba at 1:00 p.m. at Rollins.

The Spartans (9-4) came out firing scoring three goals in the first five minutes of the game. Ryan Becker got the scoring started scoring an unassisted goal 50 seconds into the game. Back-to-back goals by Andrew Smith and Drew Motschwiller extended Tampa's lead to 3-0. After a Lions goal, Greg Griffo and Becker each netted a man-up goal to give Tampa a 5-1 advantage with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter. The two teams traded goals to give Tampa a 6-2 lead after the opening period.

Saint Leo (9-5) scored two of the first three goals to start the second quarter to cut Tampa's lead to 7-4. A minute later, Joey McMahan causes a Lions turnover near midfield, picked up the ground ball, and netted his first goal of the game. After another Spartans goal, Matt Bilak converted a behind the back shot to give Tampa the 10-4 advantage. After the two teams traded goals, Griffo connected with Kyle Hemrick for the man-up goal to give Tampa a 12-5 lead at halftime.

Both defenses came out strong in the third quarter combined to force 11 turnovers but only allowing one goal. It looked like the Lions were going to score at the six minute mark, but Joseph Fiorucci made a terrific save on a George Proechel shot to keep the Lions off the board. Just under a minute left in the quarter the Lions took advantage of a Spartan's penalty and scored a man-up goal to cut the lead to 12-6 after the third quarter.

Griffo scored back-to-back goals to spark Tampa's offensive in the fourth quarter. After the two teams traded goals, Jon McGowan found Kevin Castle for a goal. Chris Caiazza netted his fifth goal of the game for Saint Leo to cut the lead to 16-8 with 2:03 remaining. Ryan Watson and Jonathan Franzese each netted a goal for the 18-8 final.

Co-DSC Player of the Year Griffo lead the Spartans with four goals and two assists, while Hemrick netted a hat trick and dished out two assists. Becker tallied four points in the contest. Nick Ferreiro went 15-17 on faceoffs and picked up five ground balls.

The defensive trio of Eric Dance, Larry Gress, and Marty Heyn combined for three caused turnovers and three ground balls. They did a great job shutting out Co-DSC Player of the Year Matt Obermeyer. Fiorucci made six saves in the contest and improved his record to 8-4 on the season.

In the other semifinals game tonight Catawba defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 12-11 in overtime to advance to the championship game.


Create a free lacrosse website