Tampa Looking to 'Go After' Limestone
When Tampa squared off with Limestone last spring, things started out pretty well for the Spartans. UT led 4-2 after 23 minutes of action, took more shots and it was even winning the faceoff battle. The Saints were on the ropes.
And then the wheels came off.
Over the next 12 minutes, Limestone rattled off seven straight goals, and eventually 10 of the next 11, to take a commanding 12-5 lead and win, 13-7. After winning six of the first 12 faceoffs, the Spartans didn't win one in the second half, and were dominated on groundballs (48-29).
"Our lack of experience was why they took over the game," said Tampa head coach Rory Whipple. "They capitalized on our mistakes big time and we talked about that all this week. We've got to control the ball and not turn the ball over. Don't let them have the opportunity to take advantage of our mistakes. We jumped out and got some goals and we played them tougher than a lot of other teams from the South, and that's something we can build on."
Tampa will attempt to make amends tonight when the Saints visit UT at 7 p.m. Unlike last year, when the two teams met in early March after Limestone had five games under its belt, this will be the Saints season-opener. J.B. Clarke's outfit has lost a lot of big names off last year's finalist team, especially on the defensive end, but Whipple knows there's plenty returning to give his team trouble.
"They have two all-conference attackmen that we have to shut down and they have an outstanding middie in that [Tor] Reinholdt kid," Whipple said. "They have a really good LSM. They've got some key players that we've really got to try and contain."
Whipple likes his team, too, especially after the solid, 12-7 victory over Deep South rival Florida Southern last Friday. With the success they've had over the last year, it's easy to forget that the Spartans are still a second-year program.
"Our attack is totally different, but being in our second year we have more depth," Whipple said. "We're still very strong defensively and in the goal. The big thing is just having more depth and more experienced kids."
Tampa should benefit from the home field advantage. Whipple said the school sent the band and a spectator bus over to Florida Southern last week, and the atmosphere will be just as intense at home. While the Spartans had hoped to have this game be the christening of the new lacrosse complex, that has been pushed back until March.
They'll be on their old field where they hope to turn 23 minutes of solid lacrosse last year into a full 60 tonight.
"We want to get after these guys," Whipple said. "We want to try and beat them. Limestone has been in [the NCAA tournament] the last 11 years, so we're going to try to seize the moment and go after them."