SAINT LEO, Fla. – With 2:23 remaining in the first overtime period, Chris Caizza rolled the crease from behind andcaught his defender off guard, giving him the opportunity to dump a well-placed shot into the cage and lift the Lions to an 8-7 victory over the University of Tampa on Saturday evening from University Turf Stadium.
The victory marks the first win for the Saint Leo Lions on the season, as well as in their new home, and lifts the Lions to a mark 1-2, and 1-1 in Deep South Conference play, while the Spartans drop their first conference game of the season and fall to a record of 2-2, and 2-1 in the DSC.
Caiazza led the game with five goals on the night, leading a total of seven Lions who contributed to scoring efforts for the Green and Gold. Dylan Yonts and Ryan Burke netted a goal and an assist each, while Connor McBride contributed a goal of his own. Matt Obermeyer, Tom Horn, and Chad Marino chipped in an assist apiece to round out the evening.
Earning a big win between the pipes for Saint Leo was freshman Dave Moore, whose 21 saves came up big for the Lions when it counted. Moore saw a total of 47 shots and 28 shots on goal, and came up with six ground balls. His adversary for the Spartans, Joseph Fiorucci, earned 14 saves after facing 40 shots and 22 shots on target from the Lions.
Leading the Spartans in scoring was Ryan Becker with two goals, while Jake Schmidt tallied a goal and an assist.
McBride got the game rolling, finding a feed from Yonts for a well-placed shot between the pipes with 11:31 on the clock. Two minutes later, Caiazza found the back of the net on a man-up opportunity to give Saint Leo a 2-0 advantage, but a late goal from Kyle Hemrick with 2:24 left in the first quarter set the score at 2-1 entering into the second-stanza.
Saint Leo dominated the second quarter, holding the Spartans off of the scoreboard while they tallied three of their own to enter into the break with a score of 5-1. The third period saw a goal apiece from both teams, setting the score at 6-2 with one quarter remaining.
Tampa took the field in the fourth quarter with force, rattling off four goals in the first three minutes to whittle away at the deficit and knot the score at 6-6 with 12:17 remaining in regulation. Horn connected a pass to Yonts for a goal with 7:09 on the clock to pull the Lions ahead 7-6, but a goal from Schmidt with 3:19 to go pulled both teams even once again.
With neither team being able to capitalize on their attacking opportunities in the final minutes, the game kicked into overtime. Saint Leo won the initial faceoff, but a quick turnover gave the Spartans possession. The Spartans rattled off two shots, including one that was saved by Moore, who dished the ball down field to give Saint Leo control.
Coming out of a timeout with 2:44 on the clock, The Lions saw George Proechel fire a shot from long range that sailed high, but Caiazza was behind cage to back up the shot and award the Lions the ball once more with 2:30 to go. As play resumed, Caiazza took his defender one-on-one, rolling the crease from the right side, and caught his defender off guard with a quick move to double-back. The brief opening allowed the sophomore from Lindenhurst, N.Y. to dump a well-placed shot past Fiorucci to give the Lions the victory.
The Lions led the game in saves, 21-14, ground balls 34-32, and won 11-of-19 faceoffs, with middie John Laronga pulling in 11-of-17 attempts and picking up eight ground balls. Saint Leo was was successful on 19-of-22 clear attempts, and were successful on 2-of-3 man-up opportunities. The Lions' man-down defense held the Spartans to just one goal on five man-up situations.
Saint Leo returns to action on Thursday, February 28, when they travel to Winter Park, Florida to take on Rollins College in Deep South Conference action. Game time against the Tars is slated for 7 p.m. 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.