Panthers Stop Coker In Mens’ Lacrosse

By  //  March 2, 2013

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FIT Comes Up Big In Fourth Quarter

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Coker scored three consecutive man-up goals in the third quarter to cut a four-goal deficit to just one, 8-7, before the start of the final quarter. But in the fourth quarter, Florida Tech scored twice and completed two penalty kills to hold on for a 10-7 mens’ lacrosse victory over the Cobras on Friday at Melbourne Central Catholic’s Hustler Stadium.

Panthers goalie Eric Biller had 15 saves in Florida Tech’s 10-7 men’s lacrosse win over Coker on Friday night in Melbourne. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

Florida Tech (3-2) took its largest lead at 8-4 with 10:44 remaining in the third quarter. Sophomore Andrew Conley began the charge with 3:48 left in the first half, scoring his second goal of the game with a rifle of a shot from the right side. Two minutes later, senior Matt Durand followed with another unassisted goal to push the Panthers’ lead to 7-4 with 1:24 left in the second quarter.

Conley connected on a pass from Mike Marshner to begin the third quarter to earn his second hat trick of the season—fifth of his career—and to give FIT an 8-4 advantage.

Coker (1-4) made its move midway through the third quarter. The Panthers were charged with three-consecutive penalties in a span of two and a half minutes. And the Cobras made them pay all three times.

Keith LaClair scored at 7:19, Ryan Maurer scored at 6:15 and Timothy Smith scored at 4:37 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 8-7.

A fourth consecutive penalty charged to Florida tech happened just 50 seconds into the final quarter–an illegal body check. Coker was 4-for-4 in man-up opportunities so far in the game.

The Panthers’ defense stepped up allowing just three shots, none of which were on target, to hold on to the one-goal lead.

Three minutes later, Durand netted his second goal of the game to extend Florida Tech’s lead to 9-7.

With 6:01 remaining in regulation, Durand created a turnover in the defensive zone, scooped up the loose ball and cleared it to the offensive zone. Durand passed it to freshman Brian Bacarella, who was behind the net. Then Bacarella fed the ball out front to Nick Gardner for his third goal of the evening to give the Panthers a 10-7 lead.

“Andrew [Conley] and Nick [Gardner] had hat tricks, but the guy who really stepped up when we need him was Matt Durand,” Head coachRyan McAleavey said. “He made a great play on the defensive end that we converted into a goal.”

The Cobras fired eight of their 17 four-quarter shots in the final six minutes of regulation. Two of those shots were put on net in a span of four seconds.

Goalie Eric Biller (3-2) made back-to-back saves on those shots with 24 seconds remaining to send the Panthers’ bench into a cheering frenzy. Biller finished the quarter with six saves for a total of 15 saves in the game.

“When push comes to shove, we know that we can count on him,” McAleavey said of his goalie. “We had a couple of defensive breakdowns. You don’t want to have to rely on a goalie, but when our defense breaks down we know we have a solid goalie in net.”

Coker fired two more shots wide of the goal as time ran out to give the Panthers a 10-7 decision for their third victory of the season.

Florida Tech will continue its five-game homestand against Belmont-Abbey at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6.