SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's lacrosse team found themselves on the wrong end of a 16-15 final score as the Lions dropped their season and Deep South Conference opener to the Florida Tech Panthers on Tuesday evening from University Field on the campus of Saint Leo. The loss starts Saint Leo's season with a record of 0-1, and 0-1 in the DSC action, while the Panthers earn their first DSC win in program history and advance their fresh season to a mark of 1-0, 1-0 DSC.
Matt Obermeyer led the Lions with four goals and an assist for five points to open his junior campaign. Sophomore Chris Caiazza netted a hat trick, while George Proechel tallied three points with a goal and two assists. Robert Hutchinson and Chad Marino slotted two shots between the pipes apiece, while Ray Ferrara, Miles Britton, and Dan Staker earned one goal each.
A trio of Panthers scored hat tricks, but Brian Bacarella pulled in a team best five points as he added two assists to his three-goal evening. Andrew Conley and Nick Gardner totaled three goals and an assist each, while Alex Carlson put up four points as well with one goal and four assists. A total of eight Panthers put points on the scoreboard.
Defensively, Saint Leo saw 17 saves from goalie Dave Moore in his collegiate debut. The freshman from Lake Mary, Fla. spent a full 60 minutes between the pipes. His counterpart for FIT, Eric Biller, made 13 saves on the night.
The first quarter as packed with plenty of action as both teams rattled off five goals each. Caiazza got the game started with a goal off of an assist from Horn just 38 seconds into the contest, but the Panthers answered back with two of their own to pull ahead 2-1 with 9:19 on the clock. Caiazza knotted the score at 2-2, but a goal from FIT's Ryan Bailey gave FIT a 3-2 lead with 7:49 before the break.
Obermeyer and Caiazza placed the ball in the back of the cage to give Saint Leo a 4-3 advantage with 2:50 left in the first quarter, but two consecutive goals from Florida Tech helped them gain the lead once again. However, with just 10 second remaining in the first period, Obermeyer placed a shot between the pipes to even the score at 5-5 entering into the first break.
Obermeyer kept his scoring streak alive, opening the second stanza with two more goals, followed by a goal from Ferrara to give Saint Leo an 8-5 lead with 6:42 remaining before the half. But five straight goals from the Panthers pulled FIT ahead 10-8 with 1:48 to go before halftime. Proechel notched his lone goal of the evening with 1:23 left, pulling the Lions to within one with a score of 10-9 at the half.
The Panthers took advantage of two extra-man opportunities to open the second half, scoring two goals to extend their lead by three. Florida Tech outscored the Lions 6-4 in the third stanza, leading by a score of 16-13 as the game entered the final period.
Moore held the Panthers silent in the final 15 minutes of action, facing 12 shots and making six saves to keep the Lions in contention. Two unassisted goals from Marino and Robert Hutchinson helped pull the Lions to within one, but as the final minutes ticked off the clock, Saint Leo was unable to capitalize on their attacking efforts.
At the final horn, the Panthers led the shot count 54-38 and held the advantage in ground balls 45-35. The Lions dominated on the faceoff-x, winning 24-of-35 attempts as John Laronga won 23-of-32 at the line. Saint Leo was successful on 19-of-22 clear attempts, and the man-down defense held FIT to just four goals on eight opportunities.
Saint Leo returns to action on Sunday, February 17, when they host Limestone College in South Region action. Fans who cannot make it to the game can catch all of the action live on the Saint Leo Sports Network at saintleolions.com. For the latest news, updates, and information, fans can 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.