#10 Florida Southern and Saint Leo Go Toe-To-Toe in SSC Tournament Semifinal
LAKELAND - As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, the pairings for the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Men's Lacrosse Tournament have been solidified. 10th-ranked Florida Southern (10-3, 4-1 SSC) finished second in the conference standings behind No. 6 Tampa (13-2, 5-0 SSC) and will serve as the second-seed in this year's tournament. The Moccasins will play host to third-seed Saint Leo (8-6, 3-2 SSC) on Saturday, April 19, at 1 p.m. at Barnett Field.
The last time these two met, Florida Southern pulled out an 11-10 victory over the Lions off a goal 2:03 into overtime on April 5. The win guaranteed at least a second-place finish for the Moccasins in the inaugural SSC Tournament. Florida Southern is 7-3 all-time against Saint Leo and 2-2 in postseason games as former members of the Deep South Conference.
The main reason for the team's success this season has been their high-octane offense, scoring 14.92 goals per game to rank the Mocs first in the conference and second in the country behind Lenoir-Rhyne. The Moccasins also rank near or at the top of most major statistical categories in the SSC, such as assists per game (2nd, 8.23), goals (2nd, 194), man-up goals (1st, 34) and man-up scoring percentage (1st, .400).
The Moccasin offense is led by their attack unit, with all three starters scoring 25 or more goals in 2014. The attack is led by junior Dane Sorensen (Victoria, British Columbia), who has lit up opposing goalkeepers for a program-record 51 goals this season to place him second in the country behind Jake Rooney of Tampa. Sorensen has also contributed 11 assists this season for 62 points, second in the conference to Tampa's Conor Whipple.
Leading the team in assists this season has been freshman Grant VanOverbeke (Rosemount, Min.), who has dished out 28 assists this season, also a program record. VanOverebeke sits second in the conference in assists behind Whipple, who leads with 35. The freshman from Minnesota has also found the back of the net 31 times this season, placing him second on the team behind Sorensen and just ahead of fellow freshman Cody Dyer (Slingerlands, N.Y.), who has scored 28 goals this season.
At midfield, the Scarlet-and-White is led in scoring by senior Chris Murphy (Camillus, N.Y.). Murphy, who will be playing with the German National Team at the FIL World Lacrosse Championships in June, has put up 26 points off 18 goals and eight assists through 13 games this season. Following him are two more senior midfielders, Shane Tompkins (Bear, Del.) and Kevin Naslonski (East Setauket, N.Y.). Tompkins has put up 16 goals and nine assists for 25 points, while Naslonski has registered eight goals and five assists for 13 points.
Another strong point for Florida Southern has been their face-off and groundball success. The Mocs rank third in the conference with a team face-off percentage of .620, while senior Dan Krispinsky (Fort Myers, Fla.) holds a face-off win percentage of .614 to place him third in the SSC. The Moccasins also hold the top spot in the Sunshine State Conference with a groundball per game statistic of 38.46, with sophomore Tyler Novak (Holbrook, N.Y.) leading the team with 77 loose ball pickups.
Meanwhile, the Mocs' defense is led by a quartet of veteran players, having played in 181 combined games over the past four seasons and starting 147. Leading this defense is senior captain DJ Lubs (Rockford, Mich.), who has caused 14 turnovers and picked up 23 groundballs. Lubs is the all-time Florida Southern leader in caused turnovers with 74. Leading the team in caused turnovers this season has been junior Trenell Boggans (Syracuse, N.Y.), who has forced 17 opposing turnovers and has scooped up 29 groundballs. Along with Lubs and Boggans, senior Brad Gysin (Naptown, Ind.) has played well in 11 starts this year, causing 10 turnovers and picking up 13 groundballs. At the LSM position, senior David Beaumont (New Westminster, British Columbia) has vacuumed up 37 groundballs, forced 10 turnovers, and tallied six points off three goals and three assists.
Manning the pipes all year for the Moccasins has been freshman Matt Lalli (New Milford, Conn.), registering a 10-3 record while making 100 saves in 693:00 of action. The freshman has made double-digit saves four times this year, including a season-high of 12 against Lake Erie on March 5 and again against Colorado Mesa on March 28.
As for their opponents, Saint Leo's strength rests in their defense. The Lions have allowed 100 goals through 14 games and have given up only 7.63 goals per game to rank eighth in the country. Leading the Lions on defense is Paul Aramanda with 10 caused turnovers and 24 groundballs, while Doug More comes in next with nine caused turnovers and 17 groundballs. Standing tall in the cage for Saint Leo has been Dave Moore, a two-time Sunshine State Conference Defensive Player of the Week in 2014. Moore has started every game this season, playing in 760:49 and placing second in the conference with a goals against average of 7.63, while making 128 saves to lead the team to an 8-6 record.
As for their offense, SLU is paced by Matt Obermeyer with 30 goals and six assists for 36 points. The senior attackman is followed by Dylan Yonts, who has scored 21 goals and tallied six assists for 27 points on the year. At the face-off circle, Saint Leo leads the conference with a face-off percentage of .652, with Will Cothron going .698 at the draw and picking up 107 groundballs. In their loss to the Mocs in April, Cothron won .667 percent of the face-offs taken and picked up 13 groundballs.
In the other semifinal game, the top-seeded Spartans will square off with fourth-seeded Rollins (6-8, 2-3 SSC) in Tampa on Saturday at 1 p.m. The teams previously met on April 9, with Tampa holding off the Tars late for a 13-8 victory in Winter Park. The winner of the two semifinal games will meet in the conference championship on Saturday, April 26, at the home field of the higher-seeded team. The time of the game will be determined following the conclusion of both games.