Tampa Holds off Mercyhurst in NCAA Quarterfinals

TAMPA, Fla.- The #5 Mercyhurst lacrosse team fell, 11-9, at #3 Tampa in an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal Saturday afternoon. The Lakers' season came to an end at a steamy Naimoli Family Stadium.

Tampa had a quick start, going ahead, 4-1, early in the second quarter. The Spartans scored the game's first goal with 4:17 left in the opening period, but Mitch McAvoy had an answer. The senior won the ensuing faceoff and drove straight in, scoring to tie the match at the 4:11 mark. Conor Whipple put Tampa back in the lead with 2:59 remaining in the first.

The hosts scored the first two goals of the second frame, but the Lakers rallied. Brett Williams drove in on the right side and scored at the 10:20 mark, cutting into the deficit. A few minutes later, the Lakers struck again. Cory Becker picked up a ground ball and quickly hit Brady Heseltine, who found Brandon Thomson on the right side for a goal with 8:45 left in the half. Heseltine continued the Mercyhurst momentum, collecting a loose ball in front of the crease and beating the Tampa goalie to tie the match with 5:27 to play in the first half.

After a Spartan score, Jake McAndrew finished a Connor Enright pass to even the score again at the 4:03 mark. Matt Bilak gave the home team a 6-5 halftime lead with a goal at the 1:09 mark.

The Spartans scored the first goal of the second half, but Mercyhurst responded again. Trevor Vargo assisted on a Heseltine goal with 7:53 remaining in the third and then Vargo scored to make it 7-all at the 6:05 mark. Bilak scored his fourth goal of the match with 39 seconds left, giving Tampa an 8-7 edge through three.

The hosts stretched the lead to 9-7 early in the fourth, but Cory Becker came back with a goal at the 12:09 mark. The Lakers had several chances as time ran down, but were unable to even the score again. Tampa added two late goals for insurance before Heseltine scored from McAvoy with 1:37 remaining. Tampa took the ensuing faceoff and ran out the clock.

Mercyhurst collected 30 ground balls to Tampa's 27. The Spartans had a 38-32 advantage in shots and won 17-23 faceoffs.

Heseltine finished with a hat trick and an assist. Vargo and McAvoy each put up a goal and a helper. Grace made 10 saves in goal, while Ryan Sullivan posted three ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers.

Mercyhurst finished the 2014 season with a 12-4 record. It won the ECAC regular season title and made its fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Lakers will say goodbye to 17 seniors.


Create a free lacrosse website