Tampa Downs Florida Southern for SSC Title
from press release
TAMPA, Fla. – The back line of Marty Heyn, Larry Gress, Nate Tembi, and Andrew Failla held No. 9 Florida Southern to only one goal in the first half as the No. 6 University of Tampa won the inaugural Sunshine State Conference tournament title 11-6 Saturday night at Pepin Stadium. With the win the Spartans finish their regular season with a 15-2 record, while Florida Southern fell to 11-4.
Tampa took advantage of a Moccasins penalty as Conor Whipple found Kyle Hemrick for a man-up goal two minutes into the game. Tampa won the ensuing faceoff and on the Spartans possession Whipple dodged towards the cage and put a shot past the goalie to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead. Florida Southern got on the board at the 4:35 mark when Kyle McLaughlin connected with Dane Sorensen to cut the lead to 2-1. Both teams had opportunities to score but neither converted to keep the score 2-1 after the opening period.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Matt Bilak netted a man-up goal to extend the Spartans lead to 3-1. Minutes later Chance Smith put a well-placed shot into the top right corner of the cage to give Tampa a 4-1 lead at the break.
Florida Southern scored back-to-back goals to start the second half to cut the lead to 4-3 with 8:08 remaining. Tampa responded as Bobby Calhoun and Smith each netted an unassisted goal to extend the Spartans lead to 6-3. On the Spartans next possession Jake Rooney picked up the rebound off his own shot and put it into the back of the cage to give Tampa a 7-3 advantage after three quarters of play.
The two teams traded goals twice to start the fourth quarter. Minutes later Brain Patton netted an unassisted goal to extend Tampa's lead to 10-5. Two minutes later Riley Piper found Rooney in transition for a goal to give the Spartans an 11-5 lead with 4:35 remaining in the final period. Shane Tompkins netted an unassisted goal for the Moccasins for the 11-6 final.
Rooney finished the game with three goals and three ground balls. Smith netted a pair of goals, while Bilak and Whipple each tallied a goal and an assists.
Failla finished the game with eight saves and improved to 11-2 in the cage this season.
After the game, SSC Commissioner Ed Pasque honored the 11 individuals named to the SSC All-Tournament team. Rooney, who netted a hat trick in both of the Spartans win, was named the Most Outstanding Player. Whipple, Gress, Heyn, and Failla also received all-tournament selection for Tampa. Also named to the All-Tournament team were Sorensen, DJ Lubs, Matt Lalli, and Grant VanOverbeke from Florida Southern, Jack Vonarb from Rollins, and Matt Obermeyer from Saint Leo.
The Spartans will now wait until May 4 when the NCAA Division II selection show airs at 7:30 on ncaa.com. Tampa, who is currently ranked third in the South Region, is seeking their first postseason appearance in program history.
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SSC All-Tournament Team
Jake Rooney, Tampa - (Most Outstanding Player)
Conor Whipple, Tampa
Marty Heyn, Tampa
Andrew Failla, Tampa
Larry Gress, Tampa
Dane Sorensen, Florida Southern
DJ Lubs, Florida Southern
Grant VanOverbeke, Florida Southern
Matt Lalli, Florida Southern
Jack Vonarb, Rollins
Matt Obermeyer, Saint Leo
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