Tampa Spartans comeback falls short against Lions

SAINT LEO, Fla - The University of Tampa men's lacrosse team overcame a five goal deficit but it wasn't enough as they fell to Saint Leo 8-7 in overtime Saturday night at University Field. With this win the Lions improve to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Deep South Conference, while the Spartans fall to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play.

Saint Leo came out strong scoring a goal on their first two possessions to give the Lions an 2-0 with 9:53 left in the opening period. Kyle Hemrick's unassisted goal put the Spartans on the scoreboard and cut the lead to 2-1 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was dominated by the Lions as they won three of four faceoffs, outshot the Spartans 15-6, and won the ground ball battle 11-2. Tampa's defense held their ground limiting Saint Leo to just three goals as the Lions took a 5-1 lead at the break.

Saint Leo extended their lead to 6-1 as Chad Marino found Chris Caiazza for the goal. Minutes later Tampa took advantage of a Lions penalty as M.J. Lorenzo found Ryan Becker for the man-up goal to cut the deficit to 6-2 after the third quarter.

The Spartans converted two Saint Leo turnovers early in the fourth quarter into goals to cut the deficit to 6-4 with 13:16 remaining. Tampa won the ensuing faceoff and Greg Griffo netted his lone goal of the game to bring Tampa within one. Nick Ferreiro won the next faceoff and picked up the ground ball for the Spartans. Drew Motschwiller's shot found the back of the cage for the equalizer with 12:17 left in the fourth quarter. After a Saint Leo goal, Jake Schmidt tallied an unassisted to goal tie the game 7-7 with 3:19 left. Tampa had several opportunities but was unable convert as the score remained tied 7-7 after regulation and sending the Spartans to overtime for the first time in program history.

In overtime, Tampa's best opportunity came on a Griffo shot which was saved by Lions goalie Dave Moore. On the Lions ensuing possession Caiazza scored an unassisted goal for the 8-7 final.

Becker led the Spartans with two goals, while Schmidt tallied a goal and an assist. Larry Gress led Tampa with seven ground balls. Joseph Fiorucci made 14 saves in the contest.

Tonight's game was the second time in program history that the Spartans have overcome a five-goal deficit to tie a game. The last time was April 1, 2012, when they overcame a 8-3 deficit to tie the game 9-9, before eventually falling to Catawba 13-9.

The Spartans will return to action Sunday, March 3, when they host Coker. Game time will be 1 p.m.
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