Panthers Overcome Five Goal Fourth Quarter Deficit To Win OT Thriller On Legendary Field

By  //  March 11, 2016

Brian Bacarella and Cody Martin combine for 10 of teams 17 points in the contest

On Monday night, the “Yankee Stadium of Lacrosse” served as the stage to one of the greatest comebacks in Florida Tech men’s lacrosse history.
On Monday night, the “Yankee Stadium of Lacrosse” served as the stage to one of the greatest comebacks in Florida Tech men’s lacrosse history.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA- On Monday night, the “Yankee Stadium of Lacrosse” served as the stage to one of the greatest comebacks in Florida Tech men’s lacrosse history.

Trailing 11-6 in the fourth quarter, two quick extra-man tallies turned the tides for the Panthers (4-1) as they went on to score the final six goals, including Austen Zugelter’s game winner in overtime, to shock Wheeling Jesuit 12-11 at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field.

Brian Bacarella and Cody Martin were the catalysts for Florida Tech in the victory. The duo combined for 10 of the team’s 17 points in the game with both players finishing with five points apiece. Bacarella tallied four goals and an assist and Martin recorded a hat trick and two assists. The two also connected on a total of three man-up opportunities against the Cardinals, including both that ignited the late run in the fourth quarter.

Ryan McAleavey
Ryan McAleavey

“Those two goals really woke us up a bit and got the ball rolling,” stated head coach Ryan McAleavey. “From there we obviously were able to control the momentum but those guys (Bacarella and Martin) really got it started with some big plays.”

Zugelter and Tyler Covey recorded two goals each in the victory. Grant Hughes scored once while Travis Wunder and Logan Sweeneydished out an assist apiece.

The teams exchanged the first four goals of the game with Covey’s equalizer coming with 5:17 left in the first to tie the contest at 2-2. Dereck Downs’ first score kicked off a 5-1 run by the Cardinals to jump ahead 7-3 with 2:07 remaining in the half. However, on the fifth goal of the spree Downs was cited for an illegal crosse giving the Panthers one final opportunity before the half.

Brian Bacarella
Brian Bacarella

Bacarella would take advantage, feeding Martin for the man-up goal to draw FIT to within three of WJU as the teams went into the locker rooms.

Downs’ third goal of the game broke an 8:31 span of scoreless lacrosse to open the third quarter but the Panthers fired back six seconds later when Wunder scooped up one of his 15 faceoff wins and found Bacarella to make it an 8-5 contest.

Downs would again find the back of the net at the 5:13 mark of the third quarter. FIT responded with Martin’s second man-up goal to trim the deficit back down to three, however two unanswered goals by Sam Horning and Matt Lee increased the Cardinals’ edge back to five at 11-6 with 9:42 remaining.

Following overlapping penalties against WJU in a span of 14 seconds, the Panthers received the fuel to their thrilling comeback when Martin hit Bacarella for consecutive man-up tallies to trim the margin to three at the 7:02 mark of the fourth. Thanks to a 5-of-6 performance at the faceoff X in the fourth quarter, Wunder allowed FIT to ‘make-it-take-it’ to mount its comeback.

“Travis had a great night,” McAleavey said. “He is just a gamer. Whenever the game is on the line and we need the ball back, he is the one that gets it for us or gives us a better than 50 percent chance on it. In the fourth quarter, when we went on that run, Travis was huge forus.

Zugelter and Grant Hughes scored to bring the Panthers to within one at 11-10 with 3:43 remaining and Covey’s second goal evened the contest for the first time since the opening quarter. Zugelter’s notched the game winner with 2:08 left in the first overtime to cap the largest comeback in program history.

Cody Martin
Cody Martin

“This was a huge win for us,” stated McAleavey. “Our guy’s backs’ were against the wall and our guys responded. They really picked up their play the rest of the way. It showed us that when we fight, we have just as good a shot to win games as everyone else out there.”

At the end of the game, Florida Tech finished with more shots (35-24) and ground balls (22-18) than Wheeling Jesuit.

Bryce Brochu finished as the game’s top scorer with eight points on two goals and six assists. Downs added four goals and two assists in the loss while Horning tallied two goals and five ground balls.

Florida Tech has little time to prepare for 6th-ranked Seton Hill (4-0) as they face the Griffins on Tuesday, March 8 at 4 p.m. in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The Griffins are 2-0 at home this season with victories over Top 10 teams NYIT and Lindenwood.

Garrett Howell is SHU’s leading points-getter with 13 on four goals and a team-leading nine assists. Pacing the team in goals is Zach Hartmann with eight to go along with four assists. Jack Moran has 11 points on four goals and seven assists while Hunter Hayes and Sean Stanners have contributed an identical stat line of seven goals and one assist.

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