Spartans to Tackle No. 1 Limestone in NCAA Semifinals

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From TampaSpartans.com

GAFFNEY, S.C. – Reaching the NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship Semifinal for the second time in program history, the No. 6 University of Tampa men’s lacrosse team will meet top-ranked Limestone College on the road at Saints Field on Sunday, May 22 at 1 p.m.

The Spartans advanced to the round of four after an impressive overtime, come-from-behind win in which visiting Tampa trailed host Mercyhurst by an 8-1 score at halftime. Senior Jake Schmidt was the ignited the second-half offense with a five-goal barrage, which included the game-winner in overtime to complete the 10-9 upset of the No. 4 Lakers.

Sophomore Alex Patton finished the contest winning 17-of-23 face offs, adding a game-high seven ground balls. Defender Charlie Cummins forced three caused turnovers to lead the defense, picking up a ground ball in the postseason thriller. Freshman netminder Bryan Karn earned the win, stopping six shots while allowing just four goals off the bench.

UT’s offense is led by Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year Conor Whipple, as the junior attacker set the new single-season record for points and assists with 93 and 48, respectively. SSC Freshman of the Year Andrew Kew is six goals shy of breaking the single-season goals record of 62 set by Jake Rooney in 2014. The freshman attacker has 57 goals and six assists through 17 games of play.

Limestone returns to the semifinal after a decisive 15-6 win over No. 9 Mount Olive. UMO took a surprising 6-4 lead into the half before the Saints stymied the Trojans in the final two quarters, keeping them scoreless in the second half of play. Limestone attacker Mike Messenger totaled six goals to lead the offense. The Saints out-shot the Trojans 49-21, including a 17-1 third quarter. Mount Olive won just three face offs on the day.

Seniors Kyle Rhatigan and Messenger lead the Saints offensively, as the two have 58 and 57 goals, respectively. Rhatigan has 100 points on the year, assisting 42 other goals while Messenger has 90 points in 18 contests.

Tampa enters the semifinal matchup with a 15-2 overall record while host Limestone is perfect at 20-0. The two teams met on Feb. 27 in Gaffney, S.C. for a regular season contest that ended in a 25-7 win for No. 1 Limestone. The Spartans have yet to record a win against the Saints as LC owns a 6-0 record in the all-time series and a 1-0 tally in postseason matchups, ending UT’s season in their 2014 semifinal showdown.

Live stats as well as a live video webcast will be available through www.ncaa.com.