Mocs Fall to Tampa 11-6 in SSC Tournament Final
TAMPA - When the dust finally settled between the two heavyweights, it was No. 6 Tampa who was victorious over No. 9 Florida Southern, 11-6, in the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship at Pepin Stadium on the University of Tampa campus.
With the loss, Florida Southern ends their regular season with an 11-4 overall record, while the regular-season and tournament champion Spartans' record improves to 15-2 as the win locks them in to at least the third-seed of the NCAA Tournament.
The top-seeded Spartans struck first with a pair of goals at 13:12 and 13:01 to take an early lead, but junior Dane Sorensen (Victoria, British Columbia) put the Mocs on the board off a pass from sophomore Kyle McLaughlin (Woolwich Township, N.J.) with 4:35 left in the quarter.
Neither team was able to find the net following Sorensen's rip, with freshman Matt Lalli (New Milford, Conn.) making a beautiful kick-save on a low Tampa shot to keep the Spartans off the board. Florida Southern was only able to get one shot off in the remaining minute, but it sailed wide and both teams went into the second quarter with the score 2-1.
The Spartans scored their third goal of the game just as a Florida Southern penalty was coming to an end at 9:28 of the quarter, and another goal 4:13 later put Tampa up 4-1 with 5:13 left in the half. A Sorensen shot with 20 seconds left was saved, and Tampa ran out the clock to go into the half with a 4-1 lead over the Mocs.
Senior Chris Murphy (Camillus, N.Y.) started off the third quarter with a much-needed FSC goal at 11:57, and the German midfielder ripped it past the Tampa keeper for a second time to pull the Mocs to within one with 8:08 to go in the quarter, but it would be as close as Florida Southern would come to the Spartans. Tampa put one past Lalli at 5:09 to go back up by two, and the Spartans made it a three goal lead with 3:46 remaining in the period. Another UT goal made it 7-3 as the Mocs went into the final 15 minutes of their season trailing by four.
Sorensen found the back of the net again at 13:12 of the fourth quarter off a feed from freshman Grant VanOverbeke (Rosemount, Min.), but the Spartans rippled the net to make it 8-4 with 10:38 left in the quarter, and UT followed that up with their ninth goal of the game with under 10 minutes left in the contest. VanOverbeke found freshman Cody Dyer (Slingerlands, N.Y.) for a man-up goal with 8:50 in the game, but UT responded with a score three minutes later to build their lead back to five. A Tampa fast-break goal one minute later made it 11-5 in favor of the regular season SSC champions, but senior Shane Tompkins (Bear, Del.) kept the Mocs in it with an unassisted rip with 2:29 left on the clock.
The Spartans stymied any more opportunities for the Mocs to make a miraculous comeback, and when the final horn sounded the Spartan bench cleared to join their players on the field in victory. As they have done all year, in victory or defeat, the Moccasins gathered around Lalli before the teams shook hands at midfield.
Following the team handshake, the 2014 Sunshine State Conference All-Tournament Team was announced. Representing the Moccasins on the All-Tournament Team were Sorensen, DJ Lubs (Rockford, Mich.), VanOverbeke and Lalli, while Jake Rooney, Conor Whipple, Marty Heyn, Andrew Failla and Larry Gress made the cut for Tampa. Also represented on the team were Jack Vonarb of Rollins and Matt Obermeyer of Saint Leo. Rooney, the SSC Co-Newcomer of the Year, was then presented with the Most Outstanding Player trophy before Tampa was presented with the SSC Tournament trophy by Sunshine State Conference Commissioner Ed Pasque.
For the game, the Mocs were led by Sorensen and Murphy with two goals apiece, while VanOverbeke led on assists with two. Senior Dan Krispinsky (Fort Myers, Fla.) was 8-20 from the face-off circle and picked up a team-high five groundballs. On defense, five Moccasin players each registered one caused turnover, and Lalli made a commendable 12 saves in defeat.
Rooney led the Spartans with three goals, while Chance Smith put two in the net. Conor Whipple, the SSC Player of the Year, was held to only one goal and one assist by the Moccasin defense. Nick Ferreiro and Trevor Calleja combined to go 12-20 from the draw, while Gress led the team with three groundballs. In goal, Failla made eight saves, including pitching a shutout in the second quarter.
With the regular season and conference tournament officially in the books, Florida Southern now looks for help outside the conference for a slim chance of making the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show takes place on Sunday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m., with Florida Southern projected to come in at No. 4 in the next NCAA South Regional rankings.