No. 12 Florida Southern Defeats Florida Tech

LAKELAND - On the final day of the 2014 regular season, No. 12 Florida Southern honored their senior class with an 18-13 victory over Florida Tech in Sunshine State Conference action at Bryant Stadium.

Not only does the win up the Mocs' record to 10-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference, but it ties the program record for most wins in a season originally set in 2012, when the team went 10-6 en route to an appearance in the championship game of the Deep South Conference Tournament. For the visiting Panthers, their season ends with a 3-9 record and 1-4 mark in the SSC.

After the Moccasins paid tribute to their 16 graduating seniors, Florida Tech put the first points on the board at 13:39 of the opening period. The Panthers didn't hold the lead for long, as freshman Grant VanOverbeke (Rosemount, Min.) scored a trio of goals in a 2:09 span with assists from senior Chris Murphy (Camillus, N.Y.) at 11:44, freshman Tyler Kuhlman (Wellington, Fla.) at 10:49, and from junior Dane Sorensen (Victoria, British Columbia) at 9:35 to put Florida Southern up 3-1.

Florida Tech responded in force with three unanswered goals of their own throughout the final 8:28 of the quarter to give the visitors a one-goal lead going into the second quarter.

Senior Shane Tompkins (Bear, Del.) scored 53 seconds into the second stanza of play off a pass from freshman Cody Dyer (Slingerlands, N.Y.) to tie the game at four-all, before a pair of seniors connected on a go-ahead goal at 9:55. Kevin Naslonski (East Setauket, N.Y.) ripped a shot past the FIT keeper after receiving a pass from Murphy, and the Mocs went up 5-4 early in the second. Murphy scored his first goal of the afternoon on a man-up opportunity on a feed from VanOverbeke at 7:24 to put FSC up 6-4.

Tech put another one on the board to make it a one-goal game, but an extra-man goal by VanOverbeke and an even goal from Dyer off a pass from sophomore Tyler Novak (Holbrook, N.Y.) widened the Moccasin lead to three. The Panthers found the back of the net for the sixth time in the contest at 2:50, and both teams went into the locker room in a tighter-than-expected contest.

Dyer opened the third quarter with his second score of the day at 13:44 to give the home team a three-goal advantage, but that lead slipped away as the Panthers scored three consecutive times in a span of 2:40 to knot the game at 9-9. VanOverbeke gave the Mocs the lead with a rip off a dish from Naslonski to put the Mocs up for good, while Naslonski would score his second of the afternoon with 4:20 of the third to build their lead to two. Tech scored with 3:15 remaining before the horn sounded and the Scarlet-and-White went into the final quarter nursing an 11-10 lead.

The second goal of the afternoon from Tompkins kick-started a run of five unanswered goals that put the nationally-ranked Moccasins up for good. The score from Tompkins, followed by goals from Murphy, senior David Beaumont (New Westminster, British Columbia), and back-to-back points from Dyer gave Florida Southern a commanding 16-10 lead late in the game. The Panthers netted one at 5:54 of the quarter, but Murphy fired right back with his third goal of the afternoon to give the Mocs a 17-11 lead with just 3:40 remaining on the clock.

With the victory all but guaranteed, head coach Marty Ward replaced many of his starters with senior back-ups at their respective positions. Although the Panthers drew to within four following the sweeping substitutions, the outcome was never in doubt. Sorensen found the back of the net with 16 seconds to go to provide the game with its final score as the Mocs celebrated yet another win on their home turf.

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