Late Goal by Crusaders Sinks Panthers

Belmont Abbey sophomore attackman Connor Sellars scored the winning goal with 34 seconds left, and goalkeeper Brett Lawless staved off Florida Tech's tying chance in the final three seconds as Crusaders earned a thrilling 13-12 win this afternoon at Alumni Field. Both teams are now 1-1 on the season.

The two teams entered halftime tied at six, but the Crusaders outscored the Panthers 7-4 in the final 30 minutes, including 4-3 in the final period.

The final period began with the two teams tied at nine, and the Abbey's Riley Quinlan put the Crusaders ahead one with a score. After the Panthers immediatelly tied the game at ten, the Abbey offense surged ahead with two straight, starting with Joey McGinley's laser at the 9:40 mark.

3:36 later, Sellars found the back of the net for the fourth time, as he muscled through the Panthers defense and beat Eric Biller to stretch the Crusader lead to a pair at 12-10.

Undeterred, the Panthers stormed right back, as they pulled one back at the 2:53 on an Alex Carlson netter.

Lastly, in the final minute, with 53 seconds left, Austen Zugelter tied the game for the final time with an unassisted strike.

Kevin Costa won the ensuing faceoff as he collected the ground ball. The Crusaders set up their offense and ran down the clock until Scotty Steele fed Sellars, who beat two defenders and slid the winning shot past Biller with 34 seconds left as he was knocked to the ground.

Florida Tech had one more chance, as the Panthers won the faceoff and called a timeout with 21 seconds left to set up the final play.

After the stoppage, the Panthers ran the clock down and with three seconds left, the Panthers made their move as C.J. Nichols was all alone with possession as he met Lawless at the top of the crease. On Florida Tech's 41st and final shot, Lawless stopped the point blank shot with the ball bouncing away as time expired.

Lawless stopped nine shots, caused one turnover and scooped up six ground balls. Sellars finished with five goals on nine shots. Quinlan totaled three and McGinley netted a pair. Max Mullin, Will Chastain (his first career goal) and Steele all had one. Steele totaled a pair of assists.

Defensively, Devin Cruz caused a pair of turnovers as the Abbey totaled seven on the afternoon.

The win gives the Abbey a 2-1 lead in the series, which began in 2012.

* * * *

BELMONT, N.C. A goal with 34 seconds remaining in regulation ended hopes of a 2-0 start for Florida Tech (1-1) as Belmont Abbey College (1-1) held on despite the Panthers' fierce comeback, 13-12, on Wednesday afternoon at Alumni Field.

Down 12-10 in the closing minutes of the game, Alex Carlson scored his first goal of the season with 2:03 left to play to cut FIT's deficit to one goal. With 53 seconds remaining, Austen Zugelter found the net for the second time in the game and fifth goal of the season to tie the game at 12-12. However, the rally fell just short as the Crusaders scored with less than 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter and earned their first victory of the season, 13-12.

FIT is now 1-1 on the season and 1-2 against Belmont Abbey while the Crusaders improved to 1-1 following its double overtime loss to Sunshine State Conference member Rollins College (1-0) on Sunday. Brian Bacarella led all Panthers with four goals and now has nine in the first two games of the season. Zugelter and Andrew Conley each scored twice and Travis Wunder won 22 of 29 faceoffs. Eric Biller (1-1) made seven saves but was charged with the loss to fall to 7-8 in his FIT career.

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