MACON, Ga. – The Florida Tech men’s lacrosse team dropped its season opener against Division I Mercer 18-6 on the road Saturday afternoon at Five Star Stadium.
David Welsh guided the Panther defense with five ground balls and four caused turnovers. Despite allowing 15 goals, freshman Vincent Palermo had a great debut with 16 saves. Raymond Francois came in relief of Palermo and finished with four stops.
It did not take long for the Panthers to score the season’s first goal as Chaconas buried his first shot just 31 seconds after Ethan Tosheff’s won the opening face-off.
The Bears tied it up at the 12:18 mark and then rattled off three more goals to grab a 4-1 edge with 3:26 to go in the first quarter. Palmisano’s unassisted effort with less than two minutes left cut the margin to 4-2.
A penalty on Williams at the end of the first quarter gave Mercer the ball to start the second. The Bears took advantage by scoring a man-up goal at the 14:33 mark to increase their lead to 5-2. Mercer then tacked on two more goals in the second quarter, growing its advantage to 7-2 at halftime.
The Bears tallied the first goal of the second half. Matt LeCompte answered with his first goal as a Panther to make the margin 8-3 with 11:28 to go in the third.
Mercer answered with another four-goal run increasing its lead to 12-3 with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter. Chaconas then ended the drought for Tech with his second goal of the day late in the third.
Mercer scored the first five goals of the fourth quarter, all within a span of 3:26, to build its lead to 17-4 with 6:26 to go. Gutmann netted his first goal of the season off an assist from Palmisano with 2:19 left on the clock. Less than a minute later, Williams got on the board with an unassisted effort to make the score 16-6.
The Bears added two more tallies before the final buzzer, increasing the final margin of victory to 12.
Mercer finished with a huge advantage in shots (68-20) and, as a result, shots on goal (38-13). Mercer controlled the face-off X collecting 20-of-26 attempts while also winning the ground ball battle (45-23).
The Panthers were successful on 24-of-28 clear attempts compared to 20-of-22 for the Bears. Florida Tech ended with more turnovers in the game as well (26-16).
The men’s lacrosse team is back in action next weekend as the team travels to Missouri to take on a pair of GLVC opponents in No. 14 Lindenwood on Feb. 8 and Maryville on Feb. 10. Florida Tech’s game with Lindenwood will begin at 2 p.m. CST at Hunter Stadium in St. Charles, Mo.
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