Rooney, Whipple Rally Tampa Past Rollins
from press release
TAMPA, Fla. – The No. 6 University of Tampa overcame a two-goal halftime deficit to defeat Rollins 13-8 in the Sunshine State Conference semi-finals Saturday afternoon at the Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex. With the win the Spartans advance to the inaugural SSC Championship game against Florida Southern April 26 at 1 p.m. at Tampa.
Tampa struck first as Conor Whipple found Jake Rooney in front of the cage for a goal to give Tampa an early 1-0 lead. Rollins responded scoring the straight goals to take a 3-1 lead with 8:14 remaining in the opening period. The two teams traded goals before Kyle Hemrick connected with Whipple, who bounced a shot into the cage cutting the deficit to 4-3 after the first quarter.
Jack Dever and Jack Vonarb hooked up twice for the Tars to start the second quarter and extend Rollins lead to 6-4 with 4:17 left. Minutes later, Mike Morris found Chance Smith for a goal to cut the lead to 6-4 at halftime.
Tampa came out strong in the second half scoring the first four goals of the third quarter. Morris connected with Rooney for a goal on the Spartans first possession of the half. Then Brian Patton netted an unassisted goal to tie the game 6-6 with 10:15 remaining. Minutes later Marty Heyn made a big hit causing a Tars turnover and on the ensuing transition Riley Piper found Whipple for the go ahead goal with 5:03 remaining in the third period. The two teams traded goals to give Tampa an 8-7 advantage after the third quarter.
The Spartans defense continued their strong performance in the final period. Nate Tembi made a big play blocking a Nicholas Schultz shot to keep the score at 8-7. Tampa then took advantage of a Rollins penalty as Whipple found Hemrick for a man-up goal to extend the Spartans lead to 9-7. The two teams traded goals, before Hemrick found James Lopilato for a man-up goal to extend Tampa's lead to 11-8. Rooney and Patton each netted a goal for the 13-8 final.
Whipple led the Spartans with six points (two goals and four assists), while Rooney and Hemrick tallied four points apiece. Morris finished the game with a goal and two assists.
Andrew Failla made 10 saves in the game and improved to 10-2 in the cage this season. The Spartans back line of Larry Gress, Heyn, and Tembi combined for 10 ground balls and five caused turnovers.
Prior to today's game SSC Commissioner Ed Pasque presented Tampa with the inaugural SSC regular season title.
Florida Southern advanced to the championship game after defeating Saint Leo 18-7 in the other semi-final today.
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