HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Florida Tech men’s lacrosse team opened the 2019 season Sunday by defeating Coker College, 10-7, on the road.
The Panthers showed few nerves in their season opener, racing out to a large halftime lead and then holding off a late Coker rally to earn the victory.
The win is also special to head coach Mark Penn as it is his first as a college head coach, and it came in his first ever game at the collegiate level.
“It feels great to get that first one under my belt,” said Penn. “But this is really about the men and the program and moving one step forward. I know I wasn’t hired to win one game. But I’m grateful and 100% of the glory goes to GOD.”
It did not take long for the Panthers to get on the board in this one as Logan Sweeney fired in the season’s opening goal just 40 seconds into the contest.
Reid Chaconas made it 2-0 after a nice individual effort on the man-up. Addison Abramson then pushed the lead to 3-0 when he picked up a loose ball in the Panthers’ defensive half and went coast-to-coast for his first goal of the season.
Chaconas and Sweeney each found the back of the net for a second time during the final 2:41 of the quarter and the Panthers went into the second leading Coker, 5-0.
Luke Palmisano found Brad Schillinger for Tech’s sixth goal at the 11:56 mark of the second quarter. Tommy Bowser added one more to the Panthers’ total with his first of the season with 5:44 to go in the period.
Despite multiple opportunities, Florida Tech was unable to find the net the rest of the quarter and carried its 7-0 lead into halftime.
Sweeney’s third goal of the contest pushed the margin to eight goals with 9:33 to in the third quarter.
Coker finally broke the silence with its first goal of the game by Ethan Irizarry to make the score 8-1. But Tech answered with a goal by Abramson, off an assist by Schillinger, with 3:49 to go in the third.
However, just 41 seconds later the Cobras struck again, this time off the stick of Joe Venazio. His goal sparked a 4-0 run by Coker that made the score, 9-5, with 11:49 left in regulation.
Bowser tallied his second goal of the game to give Tech a five-goal edge, 10-5, with a little less than nine minutes left on the clock.
The Cobras fired in two more goals, including one on the man-up, and trimmed their deficit to 10-7 with just 2:35 to go in the fourth quarter. But it was too little too late for Coker as Ryan Landwon the ensuing face-off for Tech and from there the Panthers ran out the remaining time left on the way to their first win of the season.
Sweeney led the way with a hat-trick on nine shots. Abramson, Bowser and Chaconas each scored two goals in the game. Schillinger recorded a goal and an assist and Palmisano dished out an assist.
Land controlled the face-off dot for the Panthers, winning 11-of-16 and collecting a game-high six ground balls. Jake Bredeck won his only face-off attempt in the game.
A steady force in goal the past few seasons for the Panthers, Dan Flock looks primed for another great year with 12 saves in the opener.
“It was great to see the energy that we came out with today,” said Penn. “Ryan Land set the tone by winning face-offs, and Dan Flock was hot early in the cage. When you’re strong up the middle and picking up ground balls, good things happen.”
Florida Tech finished with an advantage in shots (43-35) and ground balls (15-7). The Panthers also went 10-of-11 on clear attempts against Coker.
“Ground balls and clears were a big focus for us this week and I think we played well in those areas today. Lance Pavlina is doing an amazing job coaching our face-off and wing play. His hard work with that group showed today.”
Happy with today’s result, Penn knows the team still has work to do in order to achieve its true potential this season.
“I think we have a lot to improve on, but getting that first win is big,” stated Penn. “We know that we have to climb this ladder of success and we just got up the first rung. Now we focus on the next one.”
Next up for Florida Tech is a road trip to Young Harris, Georgia for a battle against Young Harris College on Saturday, Feb. 16. Opening face-off is set for 2 p.m. at the YHC Soccer and Lacrosse Field.
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